It seems Juande Ramos is not willing to sit back and bask in the glory of reaching a major final in his first three months in charge at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham have agreed a fee in excess of £7m for Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Woodgate, who will discuss personal terms today. Ramos has also confirmed his desire to bring Valencia outcast David Albelda to Tottenham, although a deal for the 29 year old Spanish international would be a complicated process.
Meanwhile former Spurs forward Fredi Kanoute, now at Sevilla, opened the door on a possible return to North London in an interview with the BBC, saying “I like Ramos as a coach. He has been very good with me, and I like the way he works. If he asked me [about a return], I would have to think about it because it is an important time in my career.”
Woodgate’s form this season has been patchy at best, indicative of Gareth Southgate’s side in general to be honest. But the emergence of youngster David Wheater for Boro has meant that Woodgate is no longer indispensable at the Riverside, Southgate said only last week that he would only sell players if he felt they had sufficient cover in their position. With Wheater, Emmanuel Pogatetz, Chris Riggott, Robert Huth & Matthew Bates, he obviously feels he has that. Although cynics would suggest an on-form Woodgate is the best of that bunch by quite a distance. Woodgate was delighted to sign for his home-town club (initially on loan) from Real Madrid in 2006, but has become increasingly unsettled on Teeside, and with Southgate looking to secure the £9m+ signing of Brazilian striker Afonso Alves from Heerenveen, a move may be the best option for all concerned.
Tottenham’s troubles in defence have been well documented this season- indeed their poor defending of set pieces has cost them enough points to last three seasons- and Woodgate would no doubt be an asset if fully fit. But it’s a big if. Juande Ramos and his staff may specialise in fitness, but this is a player who between January 2003 & September 2006, managed just 37 appearances for Newcastle & Real Madrid.
With Ledley King already filling the “injured centre back” role with increasing regularity, it would represent a big gamble for Ramos to spend £7m plus on a player with a poor injury record. After all, Ramos already has £8m worth of Younes Kaboul sat on the bench, and with Ricardo Rocha & Anthony Gardner also able to deputise in that area, his options are hardly limited.
Albelda is a tricky case. If it was about football, it would be a no-brainer, a class defensive midfielder is something Spurs need, and Albelda fits the bill perfectly with his wealth of European experience. But it isn’t about football, it’s about politics. Ronald Koeman was appointed by Valencia to sort out the club, and one of his first acts as manager was to axe his club captain Albelda, along with fellow veterans Miguel Angulo & Santi Canizares, from the squad altogether.
Albelda sought legal advice after Valencia refused to agree to a mutual termination of his contract, and at the moment is in football limbo after the club informed him he would need to meet the buy out clause in his contract before he could leave. Fair enough, except the buy out clause stands at around â‚¬60m! Spurs are hopeful an arrangement can be reached, and at the moment seem the best placed side to snap him up, as he is unable to transfer to another Spanish club this season having played more than four league games for Valencia pre-Koeman.
Kanoute is another interesting one. At Tottenham he was OK, nothing special, but could be a handful on his day. But under Ramos at Sevilla he quickly became one of the hottest strikers in Europe, formidable in the air and deadly on the ground. 30 goals in 2006-07 has been followed up with 17 in 24 this season, even in a less free-flowing side.
He clearly thinks highly of his former boss, although Ramos has also been reported to have denied reports that either Jermain Defoe or Darren Bent will be leaving the club this month, so to pay big money (a player like Kanoute would surely command a fee of around £10m upwards) for a FIFTH striker to keep happy, would seem a strange move. Unless of course he was planning on offloading one or more of his current crop, which at the current moment seems unlikely.
Either way, it looks like being a busy week for the Carling Cup finalists.