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Jose Mourinho at Tottenham: The Winners, Losers and Potential Signings

Jose Mourinho at Tottenham: The Winners, Losers and Potential Signings

Sunday, 24 November, 2019 - 09:00
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho speaks with Tottenham's Harry Kane and Harry Winks after the match against West Ham on Saturday. (Reuters)
London - Ben McAleer
Jose Mourinho kicked off his reign at Spurs with a 3-2 defeat of West Ham on Saturday, taking them to ninth in the Premier League. Mourinho’s first challenge as manager is to win away matches in the league, something Mauricio Pochettino failed to do in his last 12 attempts.

Before Saturday, Spurs’ last away win in the league came on a cold, winter evening at Craven Cottage in January – and they only won that match thanks to a 93rd-minute goal from Harry Winks. Since that victory over Fulham, Tottenham have lost nine away games in the league and drawn the other three. To make matters worse, they have given up leads at Southampton, Arsenal, Leicester, Liverpool and, most recently, Everton. Mourinho has the opportunity to end this disappointing run and set a course for the top four. But, looking beyond their trip to the London Stadium, who stands to win and lose from his appointment?

The winners

Erik Lamela
Erik Lamela has redeveloped himself since his £28.5m move from Roma six years ago. He joined Spurs as a flashy winger, but effectively became an onfield hatchetman for Mauricio Pochettino. Despite his injuries over the years, he is an effective member of the squad when required. Lamela started this season brightly and was especially impressive in the 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade last month, but he has not been back on the pitch since. That could be about to change.

Mourinho likes forward players who are willing to battle and Lamela is not averse to sticking the boot in. His tally of 1.9 tackles per 90 minutes is a solid return for a winger and his 1.6 fouls per 90 minutes also ranks highly. He stands to benefit from Mourinho’s appointment.

Toby Alderweireld
Mourinho was keen to sign Toby Alderweireld for Manchester United 18 months ago and now has the task of convincing the center-back that his future lies in north London. With his contract up in the summer, the Belgian will be free to negotiate with other clubs in January, so Mourinho needs to act quickly if he is coax the player into staying.

Despite his vast experience – Alderweireld won his 98th cap this week as Belgium qualified for Euro 2020 with a perfect record in their group – but he is only 30 years old and will be an important player for Tottenham if he stays. He has started 11 of the club’s 12 league matches this season and his numbers are respectable. His total of 789 passes is the seventh highest for any player in the league and his tally of 55 accurate long balls is the seventh highest for outfield players.

Eric Dier
Mourinho also wanted to bring the versatile Eric Dier to Old Trafford back in 2017, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy categorically ruled it out. Dier has been unfortunate with injuries in recent months but is now fully fit. Mourinho will be excited about finally getting to work with the 25-year-old.

Dier’s current deal runs until 2021 and there have been no reports of talks regarding a new deal, but that may change now Mourinho is in charge. His ability to play in defense and midfield gives his manager different options.

The losers

Dele Alli
After showing so much promise, Dele Alli’s career has stagnated, which is an odd sentence to type about a 23-year-old. His year has been disrupted by hamstring injuries and made worse by his loss of form. In his 32 appearances for club and country in 2019, he has scored just three goals.

A change in manager may provide a welcome reprieve, but he does not have the ability to control games from deep or pry apart defenses the way Christian Eriksen can. He may stay at the club and redevelop his game – like Lamela has done – but he is more likely to be a victim of Mourinho before too long.

Giovani Lo Celso
Just as he was getting a run in the side, Giovani lo Celso may find himself on the bench – if Mourinho goes for a 4-3-3 formation. There may be a place for Lo Celso in a three-man midfield, but Mourinho is more likely to play French pair Tanguy Ndombele and Moussa Sissoko either side of a holder in the three.

A hip injury hasn’t helped the 23-year-old settle at Tottenham, though has he shown glimpses of his quality upon his return to fitness. It remains to be seen whether supporters will see more of him during his loan at the club.

Serge Aurier
The decision to let Kieran Trippier leave without replacing him has come back to haunt Tottenham. Juan Foyth’s injury in pre-season didn’t help matters and Kyle Walker-Peters hasn’t made an appearance in the league since the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle in August.

Serge Aurier has been Spurs’ starting right-back in recent weeks. That could be about to change, especially now Foyth is back to full fitness. The 21-year-old would not be the first center-back to start excelling at right-back under Mourinho. Branislav Ivanovic did exactly that during Mourinho’s second stint at Chelsea. That would be bad news for Aurier, who hasn’t wholly convinced since his move from PSG. Spurs failed to sell him in the summer, but his time at the club could be ending sooner rather than later.

Youth prospects
“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” said Mourinho upon his appointment, but he tends to favor established players over rising stars. Oliver Skipp has made a handful of appearances for the first team and Troy Parrott’s goal-scoring record for the U21 side speaks volumes. They were the two expected to become first team regulars before too long, but their path into the squad becomes harder under Mourinho.

Potential arrivals

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is now a free agent who can sign for any club at any time. He loves Mourinho and the feeling is mutual. Last month, Ibrahimovic said of his former boss: “He had an incredible impact on my career. He is still the special one, a winner. I hope he will back on a bench soon and I am sure he will start winning immediately.” Spurs need a back-up striker for Harry Kane and signing Ibrahimovic on a short-term deal may pay suit everyone.

Nemanja Matic
He is out of favor under Ole Gunnar Solskjær at Manchester United, but Nemanja Matic is only 31 and he is a player Mourinho likes. He would add experience and bite to a Spurs midfield that is devoid of both following Mousa Dembélé’s exit and Victor Wanyama’s downturn in form after a series of knee injuries.

Bruno Fernandes
Tottenham were the only serious suitors for Bruno Fernandes over the summer, but they failed to agree a fee for the Portugal international. Fernandes is apparently still keen to join the club and Mourinho could be an extra draw for the 25-year-old. Fernandes has not disappointed for Sporting this season, scoring five and setting up five of their 18 goals so far.

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