Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Burnley may seem like a routine FA Cup third round tie, holding no more significance than the fact that it has added a replay to Spurs’ already busy January schedule.
Yet this was a game that revealed much more. Scratch beneath the surface and it said plenty about Mauricio Pochettino’s opinion on certain players in the Tottenham squad and what future they have at the club.
This was a game in which the manager decided to rotate and yet there were several high profile names missing even from the substitute bench. Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul and Aaron Lennon were all conspicuous by the absence and their time a Spurs is surely drawing to an end.
There have been rumours of behind the scenes issues with these players and you can only assume that there is something in this, considering that they appear to now be completely frozen out by Pochettino.
It’s been a fall from grace for all three. Kaboul was named as captain and was the first choice centre-back, while Adebayor was picked as a vice-captain and was preferred to Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane in the opening weeks of the season. Aaron Lennon has featured in the side fairly recently and performed well, only to be sent back into the cold.
They are clearly surplus to requirements but finding new clubs for them could be tricky. Kaboul’s contract at least runs out this summer and it’s probably more likely that he will leave on a free than another club actually paying money for him. In the case of Adebayor and Lennon, both have longer contracts and are well paid. You’d hope that Aaron Lennon would be beyond ‘doing a Benoit Assou-Ekotto’ and would want to move somewhere where he’ll get regular football. He is still fairly young and is a hard-working and decent player, after all.
The future of other players looks almost as bleak, even if they did at least feature in the 18-man squad that was named to take on Burnley. Paulinho was given a rare opportunity to play a full 90 minutes, yet did nothing to dispel the belief that he’ll never make an impression at the club.
Neither did Roberto Soldado in the 67 minutes before he was substituted. It clearly hurts the player that he has been unable to produce his best for the club. He was unsuited to Tottenham’s style of play and his confidence has suffered as a result. The best move for all involved in a fresh start at a new club.
In midfield, there is little to indicate that the starting pairing – Benjamin Stambouli and Mousa Dembele – really have the manager’s confidence, having not seen much Premier League action this season. Pochettino also seems in little rush to get Etienne Capoue back in the team, following his return from injury.
Who goes and when, will depend on the demand for their services and which players can be brought in, or promoted from the reserves, to replace them. Some will go this January, while others will be shipped out over the summer.
The mass exodus will free up plenty of cash, as transfer fees roll in and wages are slashed. I’d expect Pochettino to have got rid of the following by next season, allowing him to build a new squad:
Kyle Naughton, Younes Kaboul, Vlad Chiriches, Etienne Capoue, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, Aaron Lennon, Lewis Holtby, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Soldado