Tottenham transfer news: What does the January window look like for Spurs?

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho

The January window is in full swing and Tottenham have made their first move with the addition of Gedson Fernandes.

The 21-year-old has joined on an 18-month loan deal from Benfica with the North London club holding the option to make the deal permanent.

“I’m very happy to be here today – I make my dream a reality,” Fernandes said on signing for Spurs.

"For me, it’s one big dream to come to this big club. I will try to give my best for the club every day, in every training session and in every game and I will try to help the team wherever I can, working hard every day for this shirt."

Premier League clubs have been actively seeking reinforcements for the final part of the season and Spurs have joined the likes of Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Watford in bringing in new players.

But what does this window hold for Tottenham? Tom Carnduff evaluates their month.

What will Spurs be gaining?

Portugal midfielder Gedson Fernandes
Portugal midfielder Gedson Fernandes

The positive news for Spurs is that they have secured their first signing of the winter window.

Benfica midfielder Fernandes has joined on an initial 18-month loan deal with the option to buy at the end of it.

The 21-year-old has seen regular minutes restricted by a metatarsal fracture but has all the makings of a future star. However, Spurs fans may have to be patient when it comes to his impact on the first team.

Fernandes has spent his entire career with Benfica and earned a promotion to the first team at the beginning of 2018/19 campaign.

He's part of a group of young players who forced their way into first team contention. Fernandes and Joao Filipe were the current stand-out options in this area for the Portuguese giants who saw Joao Felix depart for Atletico Madrid for an eye-watering £113 million fee in 2019.

The LaLiga side were willing to pay such a high price despite the forward being just 20 years of age. Spurs will be hoping that Fernandes can hit the same heights.


Gedson Fernandes' Liga NOS stats - 2018/19 season

  • Games Played - 22
  • Starts - 11
  • Total Minutes Played - 1039
  • Goals - 0
  • Assists - 2
  • Passing Accuracy % - 84
  • Touches Per Game - 31.4
  • Tackles Per Game - 1.3
  • Duels Won Per Game % - 52

Gedson Fernandes' Liga NOS stats - 2019/20 season

  • Games Played - 7
  • Starts - 2
  • Total Minutes Played - 213
  • Goals - 0
  • Assists - 0
  • Passing Accuracy % - 85
  • Touches Per Game - 19.4
  • Tackles Per Game - 1.0
  • Duels Won Per Game % - 65

In truth, his statistics don't jump out from the page. He has hit the normal amount for a player who has been in-and-out of the side throughout the current campaign.

The difference for Fernandes this year is that he's found himself lining up in right midfield, as opposed to the central midfield position he played during the majority of the 2018/19 campaign.

That versatility is a huge plus though as he can play a number of midfield roles. He's also had previous experience playing up front while dropping into defence when required.

What will be the biggest benefit for Mourinho's Tottenham is his tenacity in the middle of the pitch. Fernandes can contribute in the defensive sections and then transition to create an attack.

The likelihood is that he will be utilised as part of the midfield two in Spurs' current preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

That doesn't mean he will be restricted to the defensive parts of the midfield. His range of passing does allow for more creativity, but he has shown an ability to look to break behind the opposition defensive line if there is a chance to play a through ball.

Mourinho will likely give Fernandes the freedom to do that; the permission to push forward and offer the support in the advanced positions and potentially get onto the scoresheet himself.

What will Spurs be losing?

Christian Eriksen currently divides opinion and his future at Tottenham continues to be uncertain with his contract due to expire in the summer.

Inter have been linked with a January move and there's every possibility that he will end up in Serie A - an increasingly popular path for players looking to move out of the Premier League.

Mourinho even involved Eriksen in Tottenham's FA Cup third round replay victory over Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.

There's an argument to be made for all three possible avenues that the attacking midfielder could go down; those being leave this month, leave in the summer or sign a new deal with Spurs.

The latter of those trio of possibilities looks the least likely. Recent comments from the Tottenham boss suggests that there is a good possibility that the Danish international's future is elsewhere.

"One thing is to not put in his best performance, that is Christian Eriksen and so many players around the world," Mourinho said.

"For different reasons you have better seasons than others, better matches than others. If you ask me if I think this is the best Christian Eriksen - I have to be honest and say no.

"If you ask me if I know the reasons - I'm not an idiot, I have been in football for many years.

"I know clearly that a player in this situation is not a player that - even if he wants, and I am not blaming or criticising the player - it is normal that he doesn't perform at the highest level.

"I can also say that he is helping us in matches that he is playing. He had positives performances and contributions. If I remember the game against Olympiakos. He came in and gave us a lot, the same against Norwich.

"Our fans thought he didn't have a great performance against Liverpool - I have to agree with that."

There's little doubt that his performance level on the pitch has dipped since the ongoing problems off the field.


Christian Eriksen's Premier League stats - 2017/18 season

  • Games Played - 37
  • Starts - 37
  • Total Minutes Played - 3226
  • Goals - 10
  • Assists - 11
  • Passing Accuracy % - 82
  • Touches Per Game - 81.5
  • Big Chances Created - 15
  • Key Passes Per Game - 2.6

Christian Eriksen's Premier League stats - 2019/20 season

  • Games Played - 18
  • Starts - 10
  • Total Minutes Played - 1046
  • Goals - 2
  • Assists - 2
  • Passing Accuracy % - 80
  • Touches Per Game - 47.3
  • Big Chances Created - 3
  • Key Passes Per Game - 1.3

The 2017/18 season was one of a number of positive campaigns for Eriksen during his seven years in a Spurs shirt.

The creativity was ever-present; possessing a real threat in the attacking midfield positions which created opportunities for those in attacking areas.

He would also be involved in the goal-scoring himself with direct involvement in 21 goals during 37 games.

Arguably the stand-out statistic of all when comparing the two seasons mentioned above is the number of starts Eriksen was given.

During the 2017/18 campaign, he proved himself to be an invaluable member of Mauricio Pochettino's side with 37 starts from a possible 37.

29 of those games also the saw the midfielder play the full 90 minutes. The earliest point for a substitution came in the 64th minute - a 1-1 draw with Watford where Eriksen played in a right attacking midfield role alongside Dele Alli and Son Heung-min.

That starting spot has dropped to 55% of games this season.

Mourinho's comments following their win over Middlesbrough suggest that a departure could come before the end of January.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho with Christian Eriksen
Jose Mourinho with Christian Eriksen

"He played very well," The Spurs boss told the media.

"Played very well, very professional which is what I expect from him.

"If his decision is to leave I think he has to leave with his head up, if he gives everything which is what he tries to do for the team.

"Fans, it's always to respect, we have to respect but I think the boy did it for us."

Are Spurs really losing anything major with Eriksen departing?

At the top-end of his game, Eriksen is among the best players in the Premier League, if not Europe.

The issue is that he hasn’t reached that side of the scale across the past couple of seasons; performance levels have dropped as time has gone on.

There’s every chance that Eriksen could go to Inter and hit the heights previously seen from him. A change of scenery can often rekindle previous form and that’s what is needed for all parties involved.

Even if Tottenham were to better Inter’s offer for him the whole saga has now reached a point where a move looks inevitable.

What do Spurs need?

Serge Aurier could leave Tottenham in January
Serge Aurier could leave Tottenham in January

Mourinho has recently hinted that the Tottenham job has presented him with his toughest role since his time at Porto.

The Spurs boss has been a dealt a harsh hand with long-term injuries to Harry Kane, who could be out until next season, Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies and Moussa Sissoko, while record signing Tanguy Ndombele has often had niggles.

"It is what it is," he said of their current situation. "We cannot have a squad like some other teams. It's not us.

"Yesterday, I was watching Man City and I looked to the bench - (Raheem) Sterling, Bernardo Silva, (Ilkay) Gundogan, (Nicolas) Otamendi.

"Liverpool, you see the team, you see the bench. And they have injured (Joel) Matip, (Dejan) Lovren, (Naby) Keita, Fabinho.

"I'm not jealous, I have an amazing job, but they are different jobs. This is a different club."

That injury crisis won’t result in Spurs panic-buying in the January market, it’s not in their nature, and there’s too much that needs to be done to force their hand into paying over the odds to get what they want now.

Fernandes’ style means that he has all the potential to flourish in this Tottenham side. A midfielder with a presence in all areas of the pitch is exactly what Mourinho will be after.

The balance also needs to be made that this is a signing with one eye on the future. Placing all their hopes on a youngster who is yet to fully break into Benfica’s first team would be somewhat harsh.

There is still the ongoing full-back issue which wasn’t solved when Trippier departed for Atletico in the summer.

Serge Aurier has been viewed as his replacement, while Moussa Sissoko has dropped in when required and the recent emergence of Japhet Tanganga has potentially changed the picture.

There’s that balance that needs to be found between ensuring that young players have sufficient game time in order to aid development and Spurs having the right player in every position.

Do Tottenham need to upgrade on Aurier? Yes. Will it be high on the priorities list? Debatable.


Serge Aurier’s Premier League stats - 2019/20 season

  • Games Played – 17
  • Games Started – 17
  • Assists – 3
  • Touches Per Game – 68.1
  • Tackles Per Game – 3.1
  • Total Duels Won – 56%
  • Dribbled Past Per Game – 1.1
  • Accurate Crosses – 16%
  • Accurate Opp. Half Passes – 66%
  • Possession Lost Per Game – 15.9

Max Aarons’ Premier League stats - 2019/20 season

  • Games Played – 20
  • Games Started – 20
  • Assists – 0
  • Touches Per Game – 62.8
  • Tackles Per Game – 1.3
  • Total Duels Won – 46%
  • Dribbled Past Per Game – 0.5
  • Accurate Crosses – 22%
  • Accurate Opp. Half Passes – 72%
  • Possession Lost Per Game – 14.5

Ricardo Pereira at Leicester would be an ideal replacement given the role he has played in the Foxes current Premier League position but Max Aarons would make sense at all levels of the club.

The Norwich full-back shone as they were promoted from the Sky Bet Championship and, at the age of 20, has his whole career ahead of him.

We saw glimpses of Tottenham looking to the future when they brought in Jack Clarke from Leeds and Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham in the summer; the acquisition of Fernandes suggests that this remains a priority.

It’s not necessarily a case of making this squad younger for the sake of it but bringing in quality players who can do a job now while also having that potential to grow in the future.

Aurier’s possible transfer to AC Milan opens the door to another full-back coming in and Aarons, combined with Tanganga’s presence, future-proofs that area of the pitch.

Even Djed Spence from Middlesbrough, who impressed during their two FA Cup meetings with Spurs, would be a shrewd addition as he is likely to be a player who heads to the very top.

Max Aarons could be an option for Spurs at right-back
Max Aarons could be an option for Spurs at right-back

Aarons, though, remains the more ready-made option and can make an impact now which is what will be required should Aurier depart.

His numbers stand-out considering the fact that he plays for the side currently propping up the Premier League and a long way from safety.

The big advantage for Aarons is that he possesses more of a threat going forward. His numbers are better than Aurier's in the attacking areas and Norwich have seen less opportunities to score - as results have suggested.

Then there's also an argument to be made that he's a defensively sound part of a Norwich back line that has been depleted by injuries. On average, Aarons loses possession on less occasions that the current Tottenham right-back while wingers have also found it harder to get past him.

A potentially deceptive stat considering Liverpool cross the ball far more than Norwich but Aarons and Trent Alexander-Arnold both have their accurate crossing percentage stand at 22.

It's relative though. If Norwich found themselves on the front foot more than Aarons would have more opportunities to attack. The fact that the Canaries youngster has also made more key passes than Danny Rose, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Kyle Walker emphasises his threat at the other end of the pitch.

The right-back area is one that does need improvement and Aarons looks the most logical outcome at this moment in time.

Heung-Min Son, right, with Jose Mourinho
Son Heung-min, right, with Jose Mourinho

Even with the outgoing Eriksen, Spurs do have strength in attack. Harry Kane’s near season-ending injury causes problems in the short-term but there is Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min who can, for now, fill the vacancy.

It’ll always be difficult to attract a striker when Kane is at the club. The England captain is firmly among the world’s elite and anyone coming in is guaranteed to be the back-up option. A difficult sell when the level needed are likely starting for clubs in top European leagues.

January is expected to be a quiet month for Spurs with youth players going out on loan being the area where they are going to be most active.

Fernandes’ arrival though shows that they are seeking incomings in priority areas.

It won’t be a busy time for welcoming in new recruits - but expect the winter window to bring a couple of fresh additions for Mourinho’s squad.


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