Friday, January 14, 2011

Steven Pienaar's Move to Spurs Means The End of the Road for Aaron Lennon

Despite Chelsea making a last ditch, £6 million, 11th hour bid for Steven Pienaar's services, it now looks very likely that the Everton midfielder will be winging his way to Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Redknapp has been tracking the South African midfielder for some time and his impending arrival at White Hart Lane should by all accounts speed up the exit of Aaron Lennon from the club...

Pienaar has been unhappy for some time at Everton and has been looking for a move for some time. Negotiations for a new contract began last year but his agents demands were resoundly rejected by the club.
Rob Moore, Pienaar's agent, had wanted his client to become one of the highest earners at Goodison Park but the club flatly refused to move the versatile midfielder onto the same terms and conditions as Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta.

He was able to point out that Pienaar was easily one of the first names to go down on the Everton team sheet when fit and that the clubs win percentage with Pienaar in the side was comparable with the win percentages of Cahill and Arteta.

The clubs flat refusal to move Pienaar onto the same conditions as his Everton team mates was effectively the club telling the player that he was not an important member of the first team.

From then on Moore started looking for a new home for the midfielder and with Harry Redknapp being a long time admirer; Spurs were contacted about the South African's availability.

As soon as Pienaar became available Spurs jumped right to the head of the growing queue. Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and a host of other European sides indicated their interest but Spurs were in pole position to gain the influential midfielders signing.

The only real surprise about Pienaar's move from Everton is that more teams have not become involved.
As a player Pienaar is excellent and is technically, tactically, and as inventive as any player plying their trade in the top flight throughout Europe.

For teams as imaginatively bereft as Liverpool or Chelsea not to become involved with the potential free signing of one of the Premier League's best midfielders is nothing short of incompetence.

The Blues only made a last ditch bid after a run of games that has seen Carlo Ancelotti's side slide right not only out of league title contention but out of the top four as well.

The lack of creativity at the heart of Chelsea's midfield over the last couple of months
Pienaar is believed to have agreed upon a £14.5 million four year deal with Spurs, £70k per week, and will now link up with his South African team mate Bongani Khumalo. The ex-Supersport United defender joined up with his new club on January 7 after his work permit was processed.

He made his first appearance in a Spurs jersey just four days later in a 4-2 win over Crystal Palace in a specially arranged friendly between the two London teams.

Khumalo's arrival is no surprise. Tottenham have a major weak point at centre half. Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King have on going injuries and look odds on to be released by the club next summer.

In midfield Spurs possess great strength in depth and it is unclear as to where Redknapp would utilise his new potential signing.

While wearing the blue of Everton, Pienaar played right across midfield and is comfortable on either flank. When you consider how astute Tottenham have been in the transfer market over the last couple of seasons it looks very likely that Niko Krancjar, David Bentley, and Aaron Lennon look like becoming the odd men out at the club.

Bentley has just joined Birmingham on loan until the end of the season with Robbie Keane almost certain to join him after Spurs accepted a £6 million fee for the striker.

Krancjar has been surplus to requirement since Gareth Bale's and Luka Modric's games moved up a level and with neither player really suffering any type of injuries this season the Croatian has found himself on the outside looking in.

That leaves Lennon.

At this stage of his career it seems unlikely that Redknapp will move Bale back into left full in place of Benoit Assou-Ekotto while Pienaar slots in at left midfield. Likewise, the South African is too similar in stature and style to Luka Modric to become the Croatian's central midfield partner so that leaves the right sided berth.

Lennon is one of the most exciting players in the league when on form. However, he is also one of the most inconsistent. His final ball is far below the required standard at Champions League level and moving the winger on for a large fee whilst replacing him with a cut-price Pienaar is not beyond the realms of disbelief.

Should Pienaar move to Spurs as most commentators expect then he will link up with Rafael van der Vaart again. The duo were at Ajax together at the start of the decade and were members of the teams that won the Eredivisie titles in 2002 and 2004.

Pienaar's arrival would be another step in the right direction for Spurs although whether he could be the player to turn Tottenham into genuine title contenders is another question completely.