Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

New Tottenham midfield general: ‘The Pitbull’, divisive talent and major wildcard all on Postecoglou’s radar

Joao Gomes, Hugo Larsson, Ederson, Kalvin Phillips

Tottenham neeed a new holding midfielder this summer and TT looks at the options

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou will have a major issue on his hands this summer when it comes to trying to fix a glaring midfield need, so TEAMtalk has decided to give him a bit of a helping hand.

Having started the season in spectacular fashion and looking strong right through the spine of the side, Spurs’ overall campaign has turned into a bit of a stop-start affair.

Yes injuries and suspensions have played a part, not to mention the loss of two in-form midfielders to the African Nations Cup at the turn of the year, but a glaring issue has been growing since mid-February and needs a major fix this summer.

It’s shocking just how badly Yves Bissouma’s form can drop off a cliff so badly given how good a player Brighton and Tottenham fans, to a lesser extent, have seen he can be.

Postecoglou’s patience must be being tested severely at a stage of the season when Tottenham are still trying to finish in the top four.

That is evidenced by the chopping and changing he’s been making in his engine room to find that right balance, with the Australian also not being averse to changing things completely at half-time of recent games.

He clearly does not have an effective player he wants to sit in front of what has now become a brittle back four, one that had looked so solid in those first 10 games to open the campaign.

Whatever the issues of Bissouma, whether it’s physical or mental, it’s clear that he cannot be trusted to perform at a consistent level and a change needs to be made.

That change is obviously too late for this stage of the season, with Postecoglou still really unwilling to throw Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on from the start. Indeed, the Dane is seen as more of a ‘closer’ at the end of games than someone who can be fluid in possession and destructive out of it from the start.

And with Hojbjerg almost certainly moving on and now doubts emerging over Bissouma’s long-term future too, TEAMtalk takes a good look at five options Postecoglou needs to consider that would improve his side for the 2024/25 campaign.

And not a mention of Conor Gallagher in sight either!

Ederson Silva – Atalanta

On the face of it, the Atalanta man looks like he could be the best and likeliest fit at this stage, given recent reports.

The Brazilian has emerged as a real powerhouse in the middle of the park for the Serie A this season and showcased all his abilities on Merseyside as Gian Piero Gasperini’s side routed Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Yes, they lost the return leg at home by a single goal but the work was done at Anfield, where Ederson protected his back four brilliantly to blunt many of Liverpool’s attacks.

Atalanta’s initial asking price also stands at just €35million (£30.1m), which is an absolute bargain for a 24-year-old at the top of his game right now.

Ederson’s best qualities are that he can play a significant role in and out of possession and loves to press the ball.

He’s not the most creative but is perfectly capable of playing between the lines and feeding more forward-thinking midfielders, making him a perfect fit to feature alongside the likes of James Maddison.

The Brazil Under-20 international is also calm in possession and capable of countering the opposition press with clever movement and positioning.

The fact he will have also played two seasons in an increasingly more competitive Serie A stands him in good stead for a potential move to England this summer.

If we had to put our money on it at this stage, this would be the likely fix for Postecoglou’s defensive midfield problem.

DON’T MISSFive Tottenham issues Ange Postecoglou must FIX to make them genuine contenders next season

Hugo Larsson – Eintracht Frankfurt

Reports this month claim that Spurs are now leading both Liverpool and Newcastle in the race to sign the talented Sweden international.

Despite only being 19, Larsson is already being tipped up as one of the top young midfield talents in European football.

The Frankfurt star can operate as a destructive No.6 or more progressive No.8 and while his addition is seen as somewhat of a gamble – given his tender age – Larsson is an outstanding young talent destined for the top.

Indeed, Frankfurt manager Dino Toppmoller was asked in December last year if Larsson could become one of the best midfielders in the world.

His response was categorical, saying: “Yes, he has what is needed. His talent and mentality are incredible. The question is, how do you handle setbacks? I will take my hat off to how he’s handled it.

“He lives football with everything that he has. You can see it in the individual video analysis. He asks, he wants to know everything and then says that he loves it and wants more.”

Larsson has made 33 appearances in all competitions for Frankfurt this season, scoring two goals and adding two assists.

There is every chance that he could be signed as competitor for Bissouma, given his age and if Postecoglou still believes he can get the Mali man back to his best.

Larsson won’t come cheap though, given that he still has four years left on his current contract. He is currently valued at €28m (£24m) on Transfermarkt but will likely cost more than that if he carries on at his current rate of progression.

DEEP DIVETottenham striker search: Dream signing, realistic options and perfect Postecoglou projects all assessed

Joao Gomes – Wolves

Joao Gomes and the Tottenham badge

Tottenham are linked with Joao Gomes

Tottenham certainly know all about Gomes from his stunning display in north London back in February.

Gary O’Neil’s men produced a perfect away performance that day to stifle Postecoglou’s attack and then break with pace to devastating effect.

The 5ft 9in Brazil international scored his first with a towering header before sweeping home a second on a quick transition after a rapid Pedro Neto break.

Gomes dominated the Spurs midfield that day alongside Mario Lemina and his outstanding display sparked rumours of concrete Manchester United interest literally days later.

However, that interest has since stretched to the white and red halves of north London for a player who moved to Molineux for just €18.7m in January 2023, after a drawn-out battle between Wolves and Ligue 1 club Lyon for his signature.

Gomes, who has been capped twice by Brazil, has the affectionate nickname of ‘The Pitbull’ as his style of play is typified by his work rate and desire to win back possession.

Stats showed that while he was in Brazil, Gomes succeeded in more tackles per 90 minutes than almost every other player and he carried that over to Lyon and now Wolves.

The 23-year-old also plays to his strengths and does not tend to get involved in other areas of the game that could hamper teammates.

To that end, he would be a perfect asset for Tottenham and Postecoglou to build a more solid midfield around.

Kalvin Phillips – Leeds

This one will clearly be a little controversial given how badly Phillips has looked during his loan spell at West Ham.

There can no doubt that his move to Manchester City was a disaster in terms of how Phillips’ game has deteriorated due to simply not getting enough minutes on the field.

At 28 years of age, the England man should be in his prime right now but his career is going in the wrong direction – and fast.

Step forward Ange Postecoglou to fix it!

When he was at his Leeds United best, the way in which Phillips could glide his way through a game was effortless. He won tackles, passed through the lines accurately, was able to drive from the midfield base and was adept at dropping into the back line to provide extra defensive cover.

If Postecoglou could bring that player to Tottenham he would be a tremendous asset, given how the Aussie loves his full-backs to push on and become part of the attack in a relentless manner.

Phillips, who has been strongly linked with a Leeds return if Daniel Farke’s men win promotion back to the top flight, would be the perfect player to slip in between Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven and give Spurs that extra bit of cover on the transition.

The big task for Postecoglou would be working with Phillips throughout pre-season to try and unlock those clear qualities again.

To that end, it would be a deal that would need to be done as early in the window as possible to give Phillips the best possible chance to resurrect his career and become and ultimately become an England regular again.

Given his struggles at The Etihad, it’s also unlikely that City would demand a big fee while Spurs would also not be considered a direct title rival. Therefore a move to north London could suit both parties.

READ MORETottenham ready to submit ‘opening offer’ for nine-goal star chased by Europe’s elite

Morgan Gibbs-White – Nottingham Forest (this one comes with twist)

As we’ve said this one is a bit of a wildcard as Gibbs-White is certainly not a holding midfielder but his arrival would mean one Tottenham man fulfilling a new regular role in front of Postecoglou’s back four.

Rumours are growing at a rapid rate that Spurs could snap up the Forest man this summer, especially if Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are relegated.

Gibbs-White has been a real standout for Forest in what has been a difficult campaign, scoring six goals and providing seven assists.

He can play as a No.8 or a No.10 but does have some bite to his game, as evidenced by his nine yellow cards this season.

But if Gibbs-White comes in and Bissouma and Hojbjerg are both sold then who plays as the defensive midfield pivot?

The answer is a fully-fit and firing Rodrigo Bentancur.

The Uruguay international, who has played in that position for his country, is still not back to his best after his ACL injury last season but is still a top talent who was outstanding before his injury.

Bentancur is not afraid to put his foot it but is also confident in possession and massively popular with the Tottenham faithful.

When is 100 percent fit, the 26-year-old flies round the field and is involved in everything good about what Spurs do.

Getting a full pre-season behind him is sure to see the old Rodrigo Bentancur return and, with this plan, it would allow Postecoglou to add more creativity to his side in the form of the silky Gibbs-White with Bentancur’s steel behind him.