Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spurs Sign Aaron Lennon to Long Term Deal to Fend Off Liverpool and Real Madrid

Tottenham Hotspur's diminutive winger Aaron Lennon has committed himself to the club by signing a new contract that will keep him at White Hart Lane until 2014.

With a massive improvement in form over the last six months, Lennon who had been one of Spurs' lowest paid players was expected to join the likes of Robbie Keane and Johnathan Woodgate in the club's highest bracket, as his importance to the team has risen exponentially since Harry Redknapp took over.

The 21-year-old has been in superb form since December and has featured in 41 of Spurs' 45 games this season, scoring five goals.

"He has that pace and skill but I don't think he has really been taught how to receive the ball and get the ball," Redknapp said.

"I spoke to him about getting behind people. When he runs behind, even if the ball doesn't come, full-backs are aware and drop off.

"Lots of players haven't been coached over the years, they play and do what they did as kids and then you step up a level. That's why there aren't that many top wingers, you get marked out of the game."

David Bentley arrived from Blackburn last summer in a £17million deal but has struggled for consistency.

Redknapp added: "They couldn't have fancied Lennon that much to have signed Bentley. Why would you sign two wide-right players? Strange, isn't it?"

That form has led to speculation that Liverpool were lining up a big money move for the player in the summer, as Rafael Benitez looks to put his stamp on the club's signings, but Lennon has ended that talk by signing a five-year deal.

Lennon, who arrived at Spurs for £1m from Leeds in 2005, was this week named in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 side for the friendlies against Norway and France later this month and is widely expected to make the move to Fabio Capello's squad sooner rather than later.

"I am sure Fabio Capello will have been impressed by Aaron this season," said Redknapp.

"England need players who can beat people and, in Theo Walcott and Aaron, they have got two people down that right-hand side who can do that."

Walcott had been in pole position but injuries have kept the Arsenal man quiet of late and Lennon has grasped his chance with both hands.

Real Madrid, currently managed by former Tottenham boss Juande Ramos, were also said to be interested in the right-winger's signature but the stumbling block in that transfer might be Ramos' future at the Bernabeu, which is still undecided at best.

The nippy winger has seen his value sky rocket this season from the initial £1m that Spurs paid for him and it is believed that should some team come in for him Spurs and Redknapp would demand at least £20m.

One other player who will be massively effected by the Lennon deal will be David Bentley. After joining in the summer for £17m he has done everything except impress, and many now feel that the ex-Arsenal player has no future at the club under Redknapp.

Everton and David Moyes are said to be monitoring the situation. The Toffees' form has dropped with the recent injury to Mikel Arteta and Moyes sees the Tottenham player as an ideal replacement.

As Redknapp seems to have finally settled on a 4-4-2 formation and with Lennon becoming a fixture in the team it would seem that Harry is building a team around the youngsters mercurial talents.

In the summer Spurs are expected to move for a left sided winger, with Stewart Downing of Middlesbrough currently their number one target. Should that transfer come off then Spurs would have two of the most exciting wingers in the EPL at the club next year.

twitter / WillieGannon