September 18, 2012 by Socrates
After a frantic end to the summer transfer window, which saw Clint Dempsey move in a last minute deal and the hopes of signing Joao Moutinho disappear, Tottenham Hotspur find themselves with four senior goal keepers. Perhaps it was the concerns over having enough options upfront, the right balance in midfield or even the prospect of selling the much respected Michael Dawson which proved to be a distraction, but Spurs wrapped up the signing of Hugo Lloris without selling or loaning out Carlo Cudicini or Heurelho Gomes. Much of the attention has been over whether the experienced American Brad Friedel will retain his place or lose it with the arrival of French international Hugo Lloris. It is clear that there is a difficult decision to be made for Villas-Boas. Friedel is one of the most consistent goalkeepers there has ever been in the premier league. Taking into account Reina’s poor form for Liverpool in the past few months, Brad Friedel performances over the last 4-5 seasons is probably only bested by Joe Hart. And of course his record of consecutive premier league games, now over 300, must have some bearing on the manager’s thinking. While the 41 year old is in occupation and so far this season looks worthy of his place, Lloris will have little patience. Bought for over £12 million, he will undoubtely have believed he was signed to play not simply cover. It would be interesting to know how much Lloris had heard of Friedel and how aware he was of the Ohioan’s reputation in english football.
However, while all the talk of late has been over who will be first choice or the prospect of rotation, little has been made of Spurs’ decision to keep Gomes and Cudicini. It is rare for a team to possess three experieced goalkeepers who have all played as ‘number ones’ at the highest level. But it is rarer still for a club to have four. What is strange is Tottenham’s claim to be a side trying to compete with the best but on a strict financial budget and maintiaining a wage structure to be envied by their rivals. Fans must be questioning whether the £12 million spent on Lloris will see meaningful returns. Will Lloris put in perfromances that Friedel can’t? More importantly what contribution to the club are Cudicini and Gomes making? The combined wages of the four goal keepers is huge. Friedel is thought to be earning £40,000 per week, and it must be assumed that Gomes will be on at least as much. While Cudicini’s wages may be a little lower, it would be reasonable to think Tottenham are paying around £200,000 per week for their quartet of keepers.
The opportunity cost of Daniel Levy becoming some kind of goal keeping collector is obviously the most frustrating for spurs’ fans. If they had chosen not to sign Lloris for £12 million and managed to sell Gomes (although admittedly a difficlut task) for any money to reduce the wages, Tottenham would have easily been able to invest in another high quality outfield player and pay them around £100-120,000 a week. The concern is that at the moment, spurs may be a little light upfront or in the full-back position. It is not ridiculous to think Adebayor and Defoe may both be unavailable at some point this season which would force AVB to play Dempsey as a lone striker – a role he rarely played at Fulham. Furthermore, if the talented Kyle Walker misses out through injury, the manager is likely to be forced to play the much less experienced Kyle Naughton at right back or potentially move William Gallas. Before the January transfer window and the return of the injured Younes Kaboul, Tottenham fans will likely see a fair amount of re-shuffling in the back line when even a minimal number of injuries hit. Jan Vertonghen may well find himself at left-back or failing that, the likes of Assou-Ekotto may go long periods without competition.
Tottenham have tremendous quality in their starting eleven and possess a real depth in their options at central midfield. However, a lack of several experenced full backs or strikers to cover for injuries and suspensions will be tested. The goalkeeper issue at Spurs may cost them more than the transfer payment and wages of Hugo Lloris.