By Greg Stobart
Tottenham’s immediate future was defined by Sunday’s crushing disappointment of missing out on Champions League football, but their long-term fate and ability to compete with the Premier League heavyweights will be shaped thousands of miles away from their north London home during a series of crunch meetings this week.
The squad have flown out to the Bahamas, the home of their billionaire owner, Joe Lewis, for a post-season friendly against the Jamaican national team. During the trip, Lewis will sit down with chairman Daniel Levy and head coach Andre Villas-Boas to discuss the club’s strategy after they missed out on a top-four finish.
Lewis has already approved Levy’s decision to break his rigid wage structure to convince Gareth Bale to sign a new contract. The double footballer of the year, who scored 21 league goals this season, has already agreed to the £130,000-a-week deal and is expected to officially put pen to paper before taking a well-earned summer holiday with his partner and young child.
|5/4||Tottenham are 5/4 with Paddy Power to finish in the top four next season
Bale is attracting interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United, and Spurs know they will be considered vulnerable after being forced to settle for Europa League football next term. They need to show Bale, and the rest of Europe, that they mean business and will no longer meekly accept their place in the food chain.
The expectation is that Tottenham will ‘go for it’ this summer despite missing out on the riches of the Champions League. Villas-Boas was never expected to achieve a top-four finish this season by those at the top, and the 2013-14 season was always going to be the true test of the Portuguese’s skill.
The likelihood is that Spurs will adjust their wage budget than start splashing out on transfer fees. Top targets like Barcelona striker David Villa would require the Londoners to spend wages in excess of £110,000-a-week but would add much-needed quality in an area where the squad is desperately weak.
While Villa is a star name, Tottenham’s fundamental policy will stay the same. As Villas-Boas said on Sunday, the club’s modus operandi remains “scouting properly and looking for good grabs in summer window to make it a stronger squad."
To that end, Villas-Boas can be expected to be joined by a new ally on the club’s transfer committee this summer. Both the manager and the chairman are keen for a technical director to act as a conduit between training ground and boardroom. Franco Baldini, the general manager of Roma, is the leading candidate for the role thanks to his network of contacts in the game and his strong relationship with Villas-Boas, who he previously tried to bring to the Italian capital.
Tottenham will continue to build a squad around young talented players with the potential to improve and increase in value. Leandro Damiao, the Brazilian striker, is a long-term target while Spurs are also looking closely at the French, Dutch, German and Belgian markets for young talent.
Another major aspect of Tottenham’s business model is the promotion of young players from the academy, especially following the move last summer to a state-of-the-art training centre in Enfield. The likes of Tom Carroll, Andros Townsend and Danny Rose are expected to become members of the first-team next term.
With the decision made to keep Bale, the club will also resist any offers for other key players including Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Sandro. The only anticipated departures will be those sanctioned by Villas-Boas - he would like to upgrade on Emmanuel Adebayor should a club be willing to pay the Togolese’s wage demands, while Benoit Assou-Ekotto is also expected to leave this summer.
It will not be all change. The weaknesses in the squad are obvious and Spurs feel they need three or four additions to start next season with a strong and balanced group of players. Levy has also told Villas-Boas that he will look to avoid his customary wheeling and dealing at the end of August and wants a ‘complete’ squad in place for the start of the new campaign on August 17.
Tottenham know how vital it is to hit the ground running. They have one year with the best player in the country in their ranks to get it right and next season will be the real opportunity, perhaps the last, to make a breakthrough.
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