The current Spurs squad has the near to perfect balance of experience and inexperience needed in for a top Premier League side. But the problem is the squad is so tight that even a single injury to a key player in any position, shifts the balance of the side towards the negative. Fortunately for Spurs, they have coped brilliantly and much better than expected with the loss of Jan Vertonghen, but when called upon to replace a squad member in the midfield or the attack, its not been a very comfortable issue to deal with.
Take the example of Harry Kane. Tottenham look quite toothless in attack when the young Englishman does not feature in the line up. Yes, they do have N’Jie, Son and Chadli to fill in the spot but none of them are outright strikers. That would be the #1 spot Pochetino will be looking to fill up once the transfer window opens. But that’s not all. When Dembele has not featured, Mason and Bentaleb are able back ups, but none come close in quality to what Moussa offers. Wanyama has been a wild goose chase so far and the rumours of Sturaro have long gone. But there is one player that Spurs should target? He’s Belgian, so that solves the issue of the player fitting into the squad. His name is Axel Witsel. The Belgian international currently plays his football for Zenit St.Petersburg in the Russian Premier League.
Why would he fit into Pochetino’s Spurs system? Here’s a brief summary on Witsel’s strengths.
He can read the game to a pin and has the capability to turn nothing set piece situations to goal scoring opportunities. With players like Lamela and Eriksen in charge of corners and freekicks, Witsel’s quality will definitely come handy. He’s an areal threat and that is one of the most important attribute for a midfielder in Pochetino’s line up. Take a look at Eric Dier and Dembele. Both are strong in the air and have won most of their areal battles this season. Witsel also has the ability to pick a pass when needed while also keeping the game and play ticking with his accurate and sharp short passing technique.
He may not be the most creative player in the Belgian side nor will he become the creative spearhead for Tottenham if he does join, but he is definitely a player who can keep the engine running when called upon. Tackling isn’t exactly an attribute you would associate with Witsel but he is more than keen to press and win the ball back when his side loses possession. Both of the current preferred CM’s in the Spurs squad are not keen to fall into crazy sliding tackles. A calm mind is what both Dier and Dembele possess, the exact same attribute that one would associate with Witsel.
With this small analysis of Wisel and the familiarity of playing in a high intensity and high back line system under AvB, the player should fit ideally and easily into Pochetino’s Spurs side. The biggest hardship that he would face to bring the player to London would be the transfer fee that Zenit would demand for a player who is only 27 and the fact that AVB would not want to lose one of his best players to a former employer. A fee in the region of €40 million should be hefty enough to sign the player. But will Levy be willing to spend so much on a 27 year old after what happened with Soldado?
Its a big question, but this time, the player may actually be wanted by the manager and fits the qualities that are needed to play in the system. We’ll have to wait and watch if Witsel does make the switch but if he does, he is bound to be a definite heat.