Toby Alderweireld for a second consecutive match could only watch, after yet again not being selected despite being fit versus Stoke City. The Belgian centre-back has been fantastic for Tottenham Hotspur in the last three years but now seems on the verge of leaving the club. This raises the question of whether or not the defence can survive without his leadership, but also a larger question. That is, can Pochettino’s project survive without key experienced players? Arguably, they can, so long as they invest in good young players.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Project is Paramount to Alderweireld’s Departure
One of the strengths of the current Spurs squad is that there are young understudies for key players. An important example is Davinson Sanchez, who has stepped up in Alderweireld’s absence. He is already showing signs of his immense quality since joining from Ajax. Indeed, he has quickly settled into the Premier League. Whilst he has made mistakes, he is adjusting to this new team but crucially has the key attributes to become Alderweireld’s replacement should he leave. He is comfortable on the ball, thus fitting really well into the team, being able to play out from the back. His defensive abilities have earned him comparisons to Ledley King, with great physical power and pace.
Tottenham have struggled with striker depth perennially. They currently call on Harry Kane to lead the front line, with Fernando Llorente as the only other recognised senior striker. Thus, this case is slightly different to Sanchez replacing Alderweireld. However, the collective force of Erik Lamela and Heung-Min Son can help stop that gap. Both players bring something completely different when occupying that number nine role. They are not yet as prolific as Kane, but it would be unrealistic to expect this. Most successful teams will still have an indispensable player, a talisman, a goalscorer. Take a look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and their clubs, for example.
Currently, there isn’t a huge crop of strikers in the Spurs youth academy ready for the first team. But, the talent is growing, with the likes of Jack Roles, Shilow Tracey and Kazaiah Sterling offering some promise. However, it still remains unclear if they will ever break into the first team and join Pochettino’s project.
Thus, if Kane was to leave, it would be ridiculous to argue that the club wouldn’t miss him. He is the one player that Spurs really can’t afford to lose. Nevertheless, if the club were to either put faith in the academy strikers or invest in a new young striker in the summer, it would ensure that Kane has a little more back-up. This would add further support to the goalscorer, who is admittedly already helped with Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son chipping in.
Pochettino and Levy
These men are the two vital elements of the club’s success. Pochettino’s philosophy has really paid off at the club, and now Levy should look to back him with even more investment. The key to any long-term sustainable project is to maintain and increase funding. Sadly the modern game is becoming akin to an arms race, with the likes of Manchester City spending hundreds of millions of pounds to forge success. Spurs needn’t splurge as much finance, but they must surely at least attempt to keep up with the market. This is particularly in terms of transfer activity, but the club should also look to adjust wage levels. One way to stop the likes of Kyle Walker and Alderweireld looking elsewhere for more money is to give them a bumper contract in the first place.
Players come and go, but the club and the crest will remain. Pochettino’s project should be the only indispensable part of the club. After all, it is successful, delightful football he desires to play, and with the right young players, this can be attained. Levy just needs to fully back his manager, as well as recognising the need to reform the wage structure. This is what Spurs need for a sustainable, successful future, regardless of which individuals leave.
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