As Moussa Sissoko came off with an injury during Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United, one thing became startlingly apparent. Fans looked to the substitute bench for a replacement and a reality hit: there wasn’t one.
Erik Lamela had to do, but he’s no central midfielder. And whilst talented, the other option, young Oliver Skipp, doesn’t quite yet have the ability to influence crucial games at this stage of the season.
Add to this, the fact that Mousa Dembele is set to leave the club for China and it becomes clear that Spurs need a midfield signing this January – especially if they want to continue their title push.
Here are six central midfielders the clubs should try and sign this winter.
1. Franck Kessie
In recent times, one of the names to be linked with a move to Spurs has been Franck Kessie. The AC Milan midfielder is known for his power and brawn in the middle of the park but still has enough technical ability to impress on the ball.
When he broke though at Atalanta he was compared to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, and whilst things have not gone brilliantly for him during his two-year loan spell in Milan, it is still widely perceived that there is a great footballer to be found in Kessie.
Mauricio Pochettino is the exact type of manager to get the best out of a youngster who hasn’t quite been able to unlock his full potential – the move could be perfect for both the player and the club.
2. Ruben Loftus-Cheek
At 22 years of age, it’s time for the midfielder to fulfil his potential and become a Premier League regular. He’s been given more of a chance this season, but still…with just nine league appearances to his name you wonder if it’s enough.
At Tottenham, the Englishman could thrive. He may still be a little rough, and a little too attacking, but when you look at how Pochettino has moulded Sissoko – another powerful attacking midfielder – to fit his system, Loftus-Cheek could quite possibly be of great use for Spurs.
3. Abdoulaye Doucoure
If Spurs want to make this deal happen, they will have to move quick. It currently looks as if the highly rated Watford midfielder is being pursued by PSG as the French champions look to bolster their squad this January.
But, in Doucoure, Tottenham could have themselves a midfielder capable of slotting right into the team. He powerful box-to-box runs have seen him impress during his time in England, and having already adjusted to the intensity Premier League, Doucoure would take less time to settle in than other rumoured targets.
It is believed that the Frenchman is ready to leave his current club – the issue for Spurs is that he’s pushing for a move to Paris…not north London.
4. Declan Rice
Whilst the West Ham youth academy product tentatively impressed last season as he broke into the first team squad, this year he has really kicked on. Scoring a winner and earning himself the man of the match award in West Ham’s recent win over Arsenal is certainly one way to impress Spurs fans, and the club should seriously be monitoring the youngster’s progress.
Playing in front of the Hammer’s defence, the Basmati Busquets has been brilliant at screening the backline and showing composure and commitment on and off the ball all season long. His star is quickly rising and it might be best to sign him up sooner rather than later if Tottenham want to avoid paying a massive transfer fee.
The main issue here is that Rice recently signed a long-term deal with his current club to tie him there until 2024. But hey, when has a contract ever kept a player at a club?
5. Eljif Elmas
Reports in Spain, via Calciomercato, have recently claimed Spurs are eyeing up a move for young Fenerbahce midfielder Eljif Elmas. The 19-year-old midfielder is widely regarded as a potential future superstar and has been linked with moves to Real Madrid, Lazio, and Borussia Dortmund.
The Macedonian has already established himself as a first team regular over in Turkey and could well be one worth pursuing. And at such a young age and with still a relatively low profile, he may be a cheaper option than many.
However, with other clubs already sniffing, it may be hard to claim his signature ahead of those teams – it looks like another deal where time feels of the essence.
6. Adrien Rabiot
Okay, okay…So I know Rabiot may have said Spurs are ‘below’ his level. And I know this would have probably rubbed a lot of Tottenham fans the wrong way. But if each can put aside their differences, this could be a great deal.
Frankly, Tottenham probably aren’t below Rabiot’s level. They’re a Champions League team managed by one of the best managers in the game. They might not be in the highest bracket of superstar clubs, but Rabiot isn’t a superstar player either. He’s good, very good, but he’s yet to truly prove himself – much like Spurs.
He’s personality might be somewhat questionable, but his footballing ability certainly isn’t. In terms of quality for what he would cost, there probably isn’t much better value this January.
Both parties should seriously consider one another.