The Times reported yesterday that Monaco and two unnamed Premier League clubs were interested in buying Niko Kranjcar in January. There have been follow-up stories from various put-two-and-two together merchants, linking Niko with a swap deal involving Steven Pienaar and then a statement from Kranjcar himself, claiming that he’s willing to fight for his spot in the team.
I was a big fan of Niko last season. He came into the side and made us miss the injured Luka Modric a little bit less and was one of our few midfielders who was capable of scoring a goal.
We figured that he’d be back-up to Modric on the left of midfield, or that the Croatians would occasionally be paired together, with Modric in a central position. What no one accounted for was the rise and rise of Gareth Bale, who has made the left flank his own.
Now Kranjcar finds himself behind both Bale and Modric. He’s not started a single game this season, despite the fact that we’ve played loads of matches. Most pointedly, he was even left out of the starting line-up to face Arsenal, even though it was jam packed with youngsters and fringe players.
Has he fallen completely out of favour with Harry? It seems unlikely. Redknapp always talks about Kranjcar as the model professional and has been his manager at two different clubs. I remember an old interview with Harry from back when they were both at Portsmouth. He admitted that he had considered changing his formation, to build his whole team around Kranjcar in a five-man midfield, because he rated the player so highly.
It sounds very similar to the position that Van der Vaart is currently occupying in the Spurs side. Would Niko work as a deputy for VDV in that position? Probably not, but only because Crouch with Kranjcar just behind him would make for the slowest attack imaginable. If we had a properly athletic lone striker though, it could be a different matter.
There’s just not going to be many opportunities for Kranjcar unless we get injuries, but this is Tottenham Hotspur and eventually we are going to have some injured players who aren’t centre backs.
It’s vital that we keep quality reserve players and I’d rather call on Kranjcar in a crisis than either Bentley or Dos Santos. However, if he still has hardly played a match by January, it’s likely that he’ll be getting itchy feet and there will be plenty of suitors.
Kranjcar cost us peanuts, but would command a fair fee on the open market. He’s got to be worth around £8m. That sort of money is always useful, but I can’t imagine us doing much business during January, so it would be better to see where things stand at the end of the season.
As for the Pienaar rumour, I can’t see how that would actually be much of an improvement to our squad. Maybe I underestimate the South African, but like Kranjcar, I can’t see him as a regular starter.
So what do you think? Keep Kranjcar or cash in?