So far it has been two in and two in Tottenham Hotspur’s midfield, with Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone heading to Hull to make room for Etienne Capoue and Paulinho.
Scott Parker will likely also leave this summer, leaving six players who will be competing for the three central midfield slots in either a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation at Spurs.
The balance of the side looks good, with two players for each notional position. Sandro and Etienne Capoue are the most defensive players, whilst Paulinho and Mousa Dembele and Paulinho are box-to-box operators who can create chances and break down the opposition play.
Having this balance does not mean that Andre Villas-Boas will opt to use one of each type of midfielder, and on paper, perhaps the strongest midfield three looks to be Paulinho, Mousa Dembele and Sandro.
Sandro was a revelation for Spurs last season, and many would suggest that his injury in the second half of the season was a defining factor in the team’s failure to finish in the top four.
Dembele and Paulinho, although perhaps not as creative as Holtby and Sigurdsson, are adept at playing through balls, and with Roberto Soldado to aim at rather than Spurs’ somewhat lacklustre options from last season, they could prove just as effective going forward as they do defensively.
Playing the pair also means Spurs have one of, if not the most powerful midfield in the league, able to press deep into the opposition half and win possession all over the pitch.
Away from home at least this should be Spurs starting trio, but there is also a case for Lewis Holtby starting in place of one of Dembele and Paulinho.
The German has the tenacity to play in a deeper midfield role than he was used in last season, and brings an air of unpredictability to Spurs’ attacks that will make it harder for opposition defences to settle.
Sigurdsson is more of a goal threat than any of the other players, but might be more frequently used in a wide attacking role this season as he lacks the power that Villas-Boas enjoys in the middle of the park.
Spurs have gone out and strengthened their squad considerably this summer, and they have the power to replicate the effectiveness of Jose Mourinho’s midfield in his first spell at Chelsea, but there is also room for a little extra creativity at home once Holtby is fit.
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