Whilst all the pack pages this summer are focused on Tottenham winger Gareth Bale, his right-flank counter part Aaron Lennon flies somewhat under the radar.
The 26-year-old winger joined Spurs in 2005 from Leeds United at the tender age of 18 and has since become both a key player and a fans’ favourite at White Hart Lane, appearing over 300 times for the North Londoners.
His lightning pace, his technical skill and his intelligent movement makes him a dangerous opponent and a regular addition to the England national squad. But, compared to a player like Gareth Bale, is it possible that Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas may eventually consider upgrading his right-winger to match the quality on the left side?
With all due respect to Aaron Lennon who is a fantastic player, a hard-working guy with a great attitude, he’s not of the same quality of Bale (then, again, few players are, of course) but for the money Spurs could potentially sell him for, his current valuation, they could undoubtedly bring in someone who could add more to the team.
Lennon is valued around £15 million at present and, at 26 he’s probably at his peak playing level for a winger. Last term he featured 34 times in the Premier League, scored 4 goals and made 8 assists in total which compared to Bale’s 21 goals and 9 assists pale’s into insignificance.
Whilst the big saga this summer is whether Bale stays or goes, I wonder whether Villas-Boas may have considered the idea of bringing in someone else and letting Lennon go for the benefit of the team.
For example, just hypothetically, if Spurs sold Lennon for £15 million, they could replace him with a player like Cristian Tello who scored 10 goals and made 9 assists in all competitions this term. At 21, the Barcelona youngster is only going to improve with experience.
Or perhaps better yet, his Barcelona teammate Alexis Sanchez? Or, perhaps young Italian forward Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli who’s valued under £10 million and scored 9 goals and made 12 assists in all competitions this term?
Even in the Premier League, for around half of what they could sell Lennon for, Spurs could bring in a player like Wigan’s Callum McManaman who emerged last term as one of the most exciting young prospects in the country. Or if they want experience, what about Nani who Manchester United are trying to offload for £10 million?
Whilst Aaron Lennon is a gifted player and a great servant of the club, he is also injury prone and with the club changing gradually and under Villas-Boas there is an ambition that Spurs want to be up there with the best in the country and, furthermore, the best in Europe.
Gareth Bale is one of the best players in the world – there really isn’t anyone else at Spurs you could say the same about other than maybe Jan Vertonghen at present.
If Villas-Boas intends to take Tottenham firstly into the top four on a regular basis, then to actually challenging for titles each year, there has to be improvement on what he’s already got – what he inherited from Harry Redknapp.
Aaron Lennon is just one of a number of players who are good – but are they good enough to win titles and challenge against the world’s best in the Champions League?
Arsenal, for example, clinched top four ahead of Spurs this term and their wingers are Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski who, between them, 37 goals and made 28 assists this season. As much as Spurs fans may hate it, that’s what they’re up against they have to be superior to Arsenal all over the pitch if they genuinely want to make it in to the top four next term.
I made much the same point about Gervinho earlier this month - he's not good enough - and I put together a list of players that could replace him for similar amounts of money to Lennon - cheaper in fact.
I have a hard time being convinced that Lennon is the best Spurs can do for a right-winger and I’m sure that’ll be an unpopular assertion but I think his stats don’t hold up against his peers, a useful squad player in the evolution of Tottenham perhaps.
Spurs can do better than that and, if they want to be more ambitious in the future, they ought to do better than that. For the money they could get for selling him they could go out and buy a genuinely top quality winger.
image: © TottenhamFan