André Villas-Boas has intimated that Jermain Defoe remains part of Tottenham Hotspur's future despite the arrival of lavish new attacking talent at White Hart Lane.
With Spurs close to completing the signing of the Italian striker Erik Lamela to reinforce a frontline already bolstered this summer by the acquisition of Roberto Soldado, Defoe gave a timely reminder of his usefulness by firing in two goals as Tottenham eased into the Europa League group stages with 3-0 second leg victory over Dinamo Tbilisi.
The goals lifted Defoe to sixth in Tottenham's all-time scoring charts but there have been suggestions that he will need to find a new club if he is to enjoy regular first-team action. However, Villas-Boas said he expects Defoe still to be at Spurs when the transfer window closes on Monday. "I think so, yes," he replied when asked outright. "What we want is for Jermain to deliver the performances like he did against Dinamo. He delivered the goals when we wanted them. He is a great professional with a great attitude."
Defoe has been a substitute in Tottenham's two Premier League games so far, both of which were settled by goals from Soldado, but he took the opportunity presented by the visit of Dinamo Tbilisi to show he is still sharp. Admittedly, the Georgian champions provided flimsy resistance and were already five goals down from last week's first leg, but Defoe took his chances well. The first came in the 39th minute, when he collected a neat pass from the impressive Lewis Holtby and thrashed the ball into the net from 18 yards. The second, which followed soon after, was a predatory tap-in after good work by Tom Carroll.
Holtby, Carroll and Defoe were the clearest beneficiaries of Villas-Boas's decision to deploy a starting line-up excluding any of Tottenham's summer signings. The contest, much like the Gareth Bale transfer saga, became simply a question of how much Spurs could get.Defoe was twice foiled as he sought a hat-trick and Gylfi Sigurdsson rattled the crossbar in the 61st minute with a long-range shot before Holtby added a third goal, his 20-yard effort flying in off the bar.
Tottenham know a far stiffer tests awaits on Sunday, when Arsenal will attempt to become the first side to score against Spurs this season. Villas-Boas says he has "no idea" whether Bale will have joined Real Madrid by then, or whether Spurs will have secured the services of Lamela, Christian Eriksen and the Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches, whom he admitted "had landed in London but that doesn't mean anything these days". Evidently Chelsea's Willian gazumping still rankles.
Villas-Boas said Spurs' transfer activity does not yet give them an advantage over Arsenal and Sunday's match is "totally unpredictable". "Both teams are very strong. They don't have to worry about their style but we have lots of new faces and are still building our own style."
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