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Tottenham facing life without Modric: Who can they sign as his replacement?

With Harry Redknapp’s dismissal at Tottenham and Andre Villas Boas’ appointment, it is expected to be a busy summer in the transfer market for the White Hart Lane club. After painstakingly missing out on Champions League qualification due to Chelsea winning the tournament last term, despite finishing fourth, star playmaker Luka Modric is widely expected to leave north London for pastures new. A new creative spark will be needed in Spurs’ central midfield for the side to challenge for the top four next season if the Croatian leaves, but who will Villas Boas select as Modric’s replacement?

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Villas Boas’ first signing comes in the form of Icelandic attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has put pen-to-paper on a switch from Hoffenheim. The Scandinavian impressed on loan at Swansea during the second-half of last season, and certainly looks to have the potential to replace Modric. Seven goals in 18 appearances for the Liberty Stadium outfit is an excellent return for a midfielder, whilst Sigurdsson has shown superb quality with the ball at his feet and from set pieces. A strong addition to the Spurs squad, but Villas Boas may well look to add another creative player this summer.

Joao Moutinho

Part of the Portugal side that made the Euro 2012 semifinals, Moutinho’s stock certainly rose in Ukraine and Poland. The diminutive midfielder showed excellent battling qualities alongside Miguel Veloso for the Iberian nation, and was a key creator of chances for the side. With Villas Boas having coached Moutinho at Porto, there is a good chance he will return to his old stomping ground for reinforcements.

Nuri Sahin

The Turkey international is another name been linked with a switch to White Hart Lane, after a poor debut season at Real Madrid in 2011-12. Sahin was the Bundesliga player of the season in 2010-11 and a key member of the title-winning Borussia Dortmund side, but has found opportunities limited at the Santiago Bernabeu. Tricky, sure on the ball, intelligent and with Madrid one of the interested parties in Modric, Sahin could find himself on his way to England.

Ganso

This Brazilian playmaker has been on leading European clubs’ radars for the last number of seasons, and rightly so. Ganso has impressed for Santos both in the Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores, inspiring the Vila Belmiro side to glory in 2011. A feature for the Brazil national side also for the last 12 months, Santos have recently admitted that they will part with their star midfielder if a sufficient offer arrives. Spurs have been linked with him in the past, and could well revisit if Modric leaves.

Oscar

Another Brazilian wonderkid, the Internacional man is not as well-known as Ganso, but certainly a talent. Oscar has recently been named in the Brazil squad for the Olympics and the player himself has admitted that Spurs have been in touch. At 20-years old the schemer would be an investment for the future, and if he gets a few outings at the London Games any work permit issues will be eradicated.

Moussa Dembele

Looking closer to home, this Fulham star has grown in stature over the last 12 months and as such is now being touted with a move to one of England’s top six. Dembele as shown versatility to play either in the centre of midfield or further forward as a second striker, but looks more adept in the engine room. Part of a talented generation of Belgian players coming through the ranks, Dembele’s range of passing and eye for a through-ball could be appreciated at White Hart Lane.

Adam Maher

Certainly an outside bet, however 18-year-old Maher has potential in droves. The AZ Alkmaar man has starred for the Eredivisie side over the last 12 months, showing great pace, skill and energy, and was recently voted Holland’s Young Player of the Year. Part of the provisional Netherlands squad for Euro 2012, the teenager has already made his international debut and has a bright future ahead of him. Despite this, Villas Boas may well opt for someone more experienced.

Published – Bleacher Report

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Chelsea’s Mata, Man United’s Evans and the undervalued Premier League XI for 2011-12

It is that time of the year when everywhere you look there is a Premiership Best XI or team of the season, but what about all those unsung heroes and subs that have contributed to their team’s success in one way or another? Here is Ninety Minutes Online’s Undervalued XI of 2011-12.

GK: Tim Howard – The former Manchester United shot stopper has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the division for some time now. Capable of excellent reflex saves and with a commanding presence, the United States international has lead the Everton defence in conceding just 39 goals all season, which has included keeping 12 clean sheets. Having played every Premier League game this term, the goalkeeper has once more proved invaluable to the Merseyside team.

RB: Bacary Sagna – With the Arsenal defence being inconsistent, this man has been their shining light. Excellent defensively and dangerous going forward, the full-back has come to the fore this season, and is just as effective as Kyle Walker, Micah Richards etc. Another leg break at the tail-end of the campaign is a massive blow for the Gunners, and Arsene Wenger will hope to have the France international fit for the start of next season.

CB: Branislav Ivanovic – With John Terry seemingly in the limelight on a weekly basis, Ivanovic has been there going about his work effectively. Contributing three goals to the cause, including the decider against Napoli in the Champions League, and armed with an array of defensive capabilities, the Serb’s versatility and combativeness has been showcased this term.

CB: Johnny Evans – Evans has been a squad player in recent seasons, but with injury to Nemanja Vidic the centre half has had a run in the team and finally had the chance to show what he is capable of. The Northern Ireland international has played 27 games this year, and has been the subject of praise from Sir Alex Ferguson.

LB: Leighton Baines – Despite Ashley Cole being considered by many as England’s number one left-back, Leighton Baines has had an excellent campaign and will push the Chelsea man for a starting jersey at Euro 2012. With a deadly left foot and excellent delivery, the Toffees defender has been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer.

RM: This position was a hard call, but it is going to Stephane Sessegnon of Sunderland. Assured on the ball and with an eye for goal to match, the attacking midfielder seems destined for bigger things. Ten assists and seven goals for The Black Cats this year has confirmed the attacker’s importance to the Stadium of Light outfit; it remains to be seen whether he will stay or move on to a top six club.

CM: With a mass of players to choose from, the first central midfielder is Moussa Dembele from Fulham. He is quickly becoming integral in the Cottagers’ set up and seems another player with potential for the big time. Martin Jol’s men have had a steady season, and with Dembele providing athleticism, stamina, tackling, and scoring an occasional goal, he really is a lynchpin in the side.

CM: Yohan Cabaye – With Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse hogging the headlines, the strikers’ supply line can be overlooked. Cabaye is a critical member of Alan Pardew’s starting XI, and the talented midfielder drives their possession game. With eight assists and four goals, the France international has been one of the signings of the season.

LM: This position goes to Juan Mata of Chelsea. His countryman David Silva has been phenomenal in Manchester City’s challenge for the title, but Mata at the other end of the country has provided 13 assists and 6 goals in Chelsea’s inconsistent season.

CF: Jermain Defoe – Despite starting on the bench in 20 games this year, Defoe has still contributed vital goals for Spurs. One of England’s deadliest finishers, the diminutive marksman may be looking for a move away from White Hart Lane if he is not assured more than a bit-part role for next term.

CF: Grant Holt – The Norwich City targetman has led the line for the newly-promoted side, scoring 14 goals this year, to keep the Canaries safely up on their return to the Premier League. A potential candidate for Euro 2012; as the second highest scoring Englishman in the top flight behind Wayne Rooney, Holt is sure to be in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts.

There were literally dozens of players to choose from when compiling this team; it was almost impossible to choose. We may be blessed with the Rooney’s, Bale’s, Aguero’s, and Van Persie’s, but the competitive nature of the league means there is a vast array of talent that can at times get overlooked.

By Stephen Reid

Tottenham and Manchester City: Beware the wrath of the former manager

With the last day of the Premier League season on Sunday, all is still to play for in the race for the Premier League title, top four and in the battle to avoid relegation. Manchester City and Tottenham are in the driving seat in their respective ambitions of winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League. However, one thing stands in their way; a dedicated former manager.

City sit top of the standings on goal difference and need three points against QPR this weekend to seal their first top-flight title since 1968. Roberto Mancini’s men have been imperious at the Etihad Stadium this term, winning 17 out of their 18 games at home and remaining unbeaten as hosts. On paper City should have the quality and motivation to dispatch the Loftus Road side; however, Rangers still need a point to ensure their Premier League status for next season, as a Bolton win away at Stoke would see the London team drop back into the bottom three.

Rangers’ fortunes have taken an upturn since Mark Hughes replaced Neil Warnock as the club’s manager. The newly-promoted side have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham since the Welsh trainer’s introduction, and have looked like a stubborn and solid side of late.

Reports in the press indicate that QPR owner Tony Fernandes will reward Hughes with a £1 million payout should he keep the club in the top flight, however the head coach will be motivated to prove a point for other reasons this Sunday. Hughes was treated harshly in his stint at City, dispatched by the club and their lofty ambitions after Sheik Mansour’s takeover, and the Rangers boss will feel that Mancini has taken advantage of the groundwork set by him.

Hughes did not have stars such as David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and others at his disposal during his time at the club, and in the early stages of the City revolution patience was not in abundance. Hughes has excelled since leaving the Manchester team, both at Fulham and QPR, and will be keen to show that City’s current success may originate from his initial underpinnings.

Meanwhile, in north London Tottenham are on the verge of reclaiming a top-four spot, and need three points at home to Fulham to confirm fourth place at least. Although finishing in third is also possible if Arsenal slip-up at West Brom, Harry Redknapp has admitted that he will be happy to claim fourth place.

Spurs’ early-season heroics have hit a sizeable roadblock over the last two months, and the White Hart Lane club have dropped from potential title challengers to scrapping for fourth. However, Martin Jol and Fulham stand in the way of a successful campaign for Spurs.

Fulham have had a good second half of the season, and the likes of Moussa Dembele, Pavel Pogrebnyak and especially Clint Dempsey will prove a threat to Spurs’ season. Martin Jol is a popular figure at White Hart Lane after his stint in the club’s hotseat. The Dutch trainer put the wheels in motion for Spurs’ current place as one of he country’s best teams, and led Tottenham to two fifth-placed finishes.

Jol has done a good job with Fulham also, and Spurs are by no means guaranteed an easy three points. Similar to Hughes, Jol will feel that his departure from Tottenham was slightly unjust, and the headhunting of Juande Ramos to replace him will have left a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Jol will look to prove a point to Daniel Levy and the rest of the Tottenham board this weekend, and in doing so could well end the north London club’s hopes of Champions League football.

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