Spurs to swoop for Liverpool captain?

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In one of the surprise transfer rumours of the end of season tramsfer mill, Tottenham have been linked with an audacious £25 million bid for Liverpool captain and England International Jordan Henderson. It is thought that Henderson would be one of a number of signings to boost the squad in anticipation of champions league football next season.

The potential of signing Henderson from Liverpool would not only add significant strength to the Tottenham squad but also weaken a competitor for Champions League football next season. In this article, Tom Hackett analyses the underlying qualities of Jordan Henderson, and assesses the potential role that the 25 year old could play in the Spurs midfield.

Henderson’s qualities

Henderson would be able to offer Spurs a number of qualities if he were to move to White Hart Lane; notably his experience of playing Champions League football something that the Tottenham Hotspur squad ultimately has a lack of. A strong head in the centre of the park that can support the players around him and has an inherent understanding of the pressures and tactical differences that come with big European nights could be an undeniable bonus in what could ultimately prove to be a grueling season.

Another quality Henderson offers is leadership, having taken over the armband at Liverpool from the talisman that is Steven Gerrard- and he has not shied away from the responsibility.

This can only help the players away around him on the pitch and the younger players as he can offer advice but also lead from the front. Henderson has credited Gerrard with bestowing his leadership qualities upon him. Having learnt from one of the Premier League’s best ever Premier League captains, Henderson could come in and become a key figure at the club.

Henderson also offers the ability to create goals from deep which can be shown by the fact that he has created an assist in almost one in four games this season. When compared to the Tottenham central midfielders only Eric Dier has made just one assist this term.

A ball playing midfielder, Henderson likes to take control of the game and this can be seen by the fact he makes the most successful passes per game when compared against the other Tottenham midfielders. Henderson makes 50.95 successful passes per game which is marginally better than Dembele’s 49.97 successful passes per game. With over 44 forward passes per game, Henderson does play a more direct style of football, than the manner we have become accustomed to at White Hart Lane, taking chances rather than dictating the game and strangling the opposition into submission.

Playing time

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It would be hard to see Henderson start over either Eric Dier or Moussa Dembele as first choice central midfielders. Dier is far more effective at playing the anchor role in front of the back four and has proven to be far more disciplined than his English counterpart. This can be seen not only through the number of interceptions Dier wins per 90 minutes (2.36) compared to Henderson’s 1.46 but also blocks per game where Dier averages 0.56 compared to Henderson’s meager 0.06.

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Dembele has **arguably** been Tottenham’s best player this season and possibly the best central midfielder in the Premier league. With a successful take on percentage of 90.51% per game, total duels won percentage of 62.24% and a pass completion of 90% this season, Dembele has shown just how critical he has been in controlling the Tottenham midfield.

It would be hard for Henderson to come in and replace Dembele with the way he has been playing. However, with Spurs looking highly likely to qualify for the Champions League next season it is likely that rotation will be needed and Henderson could enjoy plenty of game time when considering Dembele’s slightly concerning injury record.

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Henderson would also offer a more physical option in central midfield than that of Tom Carroll or Ryan Mason, as evidenced by the Borussia Dortmund game in which they were too weak to take control of central midfield.

By signing Henderson, it would improve the strength in depth in midfield, however, there is no guarantee that he would be first choice which is something he would want while in the prime of his career.

Likelihood? 

It is unlikely that Henderson will join in the summer especially considering the fact that there is no guarantee of first team football when Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele are fit; it is unlikely that Henderson would be prepared for a role on the bench. It also unlikely that Liverpool would sell a player to a team that will be rivalling them for Champions League football next season. 

The fact that Henderson is captain of Liverpool may also mean he may not wish to leave the privilege of leading one of English football’s most historical clubs. 

Whether Levy would spend the large amount of money on a central midfielder that would not be a guaranteed starter can also be questioned, especially when Tottenham will need to strengthen in other areas for the season ahead.

By Tom Hackett

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