Fresh back in management at Birmingham City, Harry Redknapp has a host of former Tottenham, QPR and Portsmouth stars that he could look towards in the summer transfer window.
The news that Harry Redknapp has taken charge of Birmingham City this week has not only seen one of English football’s biggest characters return to management, but will also have fired up a series of transfer rumours linking the Blues and their new manager to players, both silly and sensible.
Though few would be brave enough to label Redknapp a wheeler dealer if he’s in the room, there is no doubt that he has both exhibited transfer market nous during his career, and has also benefitted from re-signing players he knows well.
Now at Birmingham to steer them clear from relegation worries, Redknapp’s St Andrew’s deal is reported to be until the end of the season, with the possibility of an extension if he keeps them in the Championship, according to the Metro.
If that happens, there are a number of players the 70-year-old, who is most famous for spells with West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth and QPR, could target.
A realistic Harry’s Heroes XI if you like:
The Brazilian is number one at Watford at the moment, but at 36-years-old, and with Watford reportedly surely looking to bring in a younger prospect in that position to rival their existing goalkeepers, Gomes is likely to find himself earning fewer minutes sooner rather than later. Redknapp both benefitted and suffered from the stopper while at Spurs, where Gomes was vital to help them finish fourth in 2010, but often had a clanger in his locker.
Caulker was highly thought of at Tottenham during Redknapp’s tenure there, before the club switched managers in the summer of 2012. The one-time England cap would have his breakthrough season the year after under Ander Villas-Boas, but Redknapp remembered his qualities and convinced QPR to spend £8 million on Caulker, according to the Mail, in 2014. Out of favour at Loftus Road this season, Caulker would fill in at fullback in this side.
One of a number of Redknapp favourites who would be available for nothing, Samba was an expensive flop when signed under Redknapp at QPR, and is currently trying to win a contract at Birmingham’s rivals Aston Villa. Still only 33-years-old, he would likely be a smaller financial risk if he hooked up with his old manager this time round.
One of Rangers’ better performers this season, the defensive veteran was a solid performer in Redknapp’s QPR side, and would bring experience and leadership to any side he joins. Hill’s Rangers deal expires in the summer, could Redknapp look to bring him back to the Championship?
Under Harry Redknapp at Tottenham, Benoit Assou-Ekotto was one of the league’s best left backs. Most of the rest of his career, the former Cameroon international looked an accident waiting to happen. Now in and out of the team at Metz, the 33-year-old could link up with Redknapp once again, having also joined him at QPR on loan the season they were promoted to the Premier League.
One of two former Portsmouth central midfielders who could show up at Birmingham, 32-year-old Muntari was a driving force behind Pomey’s FA Cup triumph in 2008. Struggling for game time at Serie A side Pescara, Redknapp could look to him or Lass Diarra – currently a free agent after his Marseille release – to come in and beef up the midfield.
Fulham veteran Parker was only managed by Redknapp for one season, during Tottenham’s fourth place finish that nevertheless saw them deprived of a second Champions League spot after Chelsea’s triumph in that trophy. Having seen his minutes dwindle in the second half of the season for the Cottagers, perhaps the 36-year-old could be talked into one final switch if his current team fail to win promotion to the Premier League.
Rafael Van der Vaart
The Netherlands legend is now winding down his career at Danish side Midtjylland, but arguably Van Der Vaart’s best football came under Redknapp at Tottenham, when he netted an impressive 24 league goals in 63 games. Could he do it in the Championship? He certainly has the quality.
The first of Redknapp’s holy trinity (the other two are directly) below, Niko Kranjcar’s career has been linked to Redknapp for much of the past 10 years. The 70-year-old brought the Croatian talent to the Premier League when he signed him for Portsmouth in 2006, and he then recruited him for his Spurs project during the summer of 2009. Kranjcar linked up with Redknapp once again at QPR in a two-year loan. Now at Rangers recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, but facing an uncertain future at Ibrox, his old boss could certainly make use of him if he returns to fitness.
Jermain Defoe & Peter Crouch
How can these two Redknapp favourites not be named?! Both have enjoyed impressive seasons in the Premier League this season, with Crouch netting eight and Defoe a superb 14, suggesting there will be top flight interest in the pair if they leave their prospective clubs, but would anyone be surprised if Redknapp brings both to St Andrew’s? It would be the fifth time Redknapp managed Crouch (Portsmouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Tottenham), and the fourth time for Defoe (West Ham, Portsmouth, Tottenham), and the third time he paired them together at a club.
Though many expect Robbie Keane to hang up his boots at the end of the season, having left LA Galaxy before Christmas and spending so long without a club, he could yet be given a swansong at Birmingham if Harry picks up the phone. It was only a few months ago that the Republic of Ireland’s record goalscorer was involved at Euro 2016, and even though he’ll be 37 in the summer, Kevin Phillips was doing a goalscoring job well into his 30s for the Blues.
Berbatov never played under Redknapp, but as a classy, unpredictable striker who is available on a free, has bundles of experience in English football, and is outspoken in his search for a club, it would be a big surprise if Harry doesn’t contact the Bulgarian’s representatives.
He may be retired, but if anyone can convince him to pull his boots on for one more season it’ll be Uncle Harry, who brought him through the ranks at West Ham.