Antonio Conte’s Tottenham side have nine Premier League games left to try and secure Champions League football for next season. Spurs are currently three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal but have a number of winnable fixtures to come.
Another year without silverware means a top four spot is their last chance to end the season in the strongest position possible. Champions League football next season will not only help with their high ambitions, but also help attract summer transfer window targets.
It will be a big final couple of months for Conte after his first season in charge in north London – albeit not being in charge for a full campaign. A fourth place finish will help keep the Italian in N17 for next season, but also give him hope for the players Fabio Paratici could target when the transfer window opens.
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As we come to the end of the final international break of the season, it is not long until Tottenham’s Premier League action returns. Ahead of Spurs’ next league game against Newcastle, football.london takes a look at the seven players who have a big final couple of months ahead of them and why.
After a strong start to the season, Skipp has now been out for over a month with his unfortunate injury. Before the break Conte was asked for an update on the 21-year-old’s injury.
“It’s difficult to answer now. We’ll have two weeks to see this improvement and make him ready for the game against Newcastle,” the 52-year-old said on Skipp. However football.londonunderstand that this may be a bit of an ambitious ask and fans aren’t likely to see the midfielder back quite so soon.
Skipp was starting to form a solid partnership with Pierre Emile Hojbjerg at the beginning of the season. Since his absence, the Dane has linked up with January arrival Rodrigo Bentancur and the two are now becoming a solid duo in the middle of the field.
However that doesn’t take away from what the 21-year-old had done before his injury problem. Former Lilywhites midfielder Paul Allen was full of praise for Skipp, in a recent interview with Tottenham.
“He’s a real talent. What has impressed me is his commitment, determination, his personality,” the 59-year-old explained. “It’s a pity he’s had his injury, because you could see his confidence building, not just in breaking up play, but how he was starting to run with the ball and attack teams. He’s really starting to develop and I’m encouraged by his progress.
“I like him as a player and what I’ve seen and heard from him as a person, as well. He shows a lot of humility and respect. I’m a big fan.”
It will be a big final couple of months for Skipp as there will be every hope he can return before the end of the season. It will be a real shame if he can’t and he will then have to work hard during the summer to start the 2022/23 campaign at the strongest level possible.
Battle for a starting XI spot
Ryan Sessegnon is another Tottenham player who has been riddled with injury this season. The 21-year-old has made 16 appearances in all competitions so far and was another player who was producing solid displays, before his absence.
Playing in a left wing-back role under Conte, one he has previous experience in, Sessegnon was working hard down the left flank to make an impact at both ends of the field. Although there is still room for improvement, the defender’s recent performances highlighted his potential and the improvement he could’ve made with more time working with the Italian.
However, his injury has meant Reguilon has stepped in once again. The Spaniard was a regular at the start of the season but was replaced by Sessegnon when he was fit.
Reguilon is now playing down the left flank but is struggling to produce the same impact that the 21-year-old was before his absence. That is why the final nine games will be big for the defender.
It will all depend on the other business that is done during the summer transfer window, but Paul Robinson doesn’t believe Tottenham should sell the Spaniard despite his struggles, unless they are willing to replace him. “If you are going to let him go, you are going to have to replace like for like,” he told Football Insider.
“Sessegnon is a quality player but he’s young and injury-prone. They cannot let Reguilon go without replacing him, no way.
“He is a top player. I do like him. It would be a shame to see him go because he has improved a lot under Conte. He’s brilliant going forward and offers a lot more. It would be slightly naive to sell him I think.”
The 25-year-old needs to impress Conte in the upcoming games to ensure his spot is secure in the starting XI, before Sessegnon’s return. Currently he arguably hasn’t done enough to keep his spot but there is still time before the Englishman’s return for him to prove otherwise, which is why the next two months could be crucial.
Another player battling for a spot in the starting XI is Moura, who has made 37 appearances for the Lilywhites so far this season. The Brazilian has scored six goals and registered six assists across four competitions and has produced some solid performances during the campaign.
However, with the arrival of Dejan Kulusevski in the January transfer window and Son Heung-min and Harry Kane finding form again, it has been a big struggle for Moura to get game time. The 29-year-old is becoming someone who Conte looks to bring on towards the end of games.
It will be hard for the Brazilian to break back into the regular XI with his teammates playing so well, which is why it could be a big couple of months for Moura to do whatever he can to try and change that. He has remained in the capital during the international break meaning he would’ve had time to work with Conte, whilst the attacking trio were on duty with their country, which he will hope would have provided him with some sort of boost ahead of the return to Premier League action.
Rodon is another player who has struggled for game time this season, making just eight appearances in all competitions for Tottenham. What is even worse for the Welsh international is how well he performs for his country, which he maybe isn’t given enough of a chance to do for his club.
His display in Wales’ 2-1 victory over Austria earned him praise from boss Robert Page. “To come in off the back of not playing at club level and to give that level of performance was a credit to him. It shows he has looked after himself,” the 47-year-old said.
“It’s not the same when you are not playing. You can do all the training in the world but if you are not playing then it’s hard to give a performance like that, so Joe deserves an enormous amount of credit for that level of performance. It shows he looks after himself.”
Rodon’s teammates also recently admitted that he is one of the last on the training pitch, so it would seem his work ethic can’t be questioned, leaving even more confusion as to why he isn’t getting game time. However, with Eric Dier, Cristian Romero and Ben Davies performing so well in Conte’s back three, it would be hard to replace any of them at this moment in time.
Again, that is why it is a crucial final nine games for the defender. Every footballer wants to be playing week in and week out and if Rodon doesn’t get more time on the pitch in the final couple of months of the season, he may start to question his future at Tottenham.
The 24-year-old was one player linked with various other clubs during the January window and if he isn’t able to fulfill his potential in north London, he may look to continue his career elsewhere, whether that is with a loan move or a permanent one.
Someone else’s Spurs future that could be questioned this summer is Bergwijn, another who was linked with a move away during the winter window. The Dutch international was heavily linked with a move to Ajax, but that didn’t become a reality and the 24-year-old is still a Tottenham player.
Bergwijn produced a standout performance against Leicester at the King Power Stadium earlier in the season, scoring two injury time goals in Tottenham’s thrilling 3-2 victory. However, apart from that, there haven’t been too many other standout moments for the winger in his total of 25 appearances this season.
Former Man United defender Jaap Stam recently spoke about how Conte seems to like to use him as a substitute but that if Bergwijn is like a lot of other players, he may not stick around for too long if he isn’t getting regular football. Therefore the next couple of months could be big for the 24-year-old in assessing whether a future in N17 is what is best for his career.
The list of players who have been linked with other clubs continues and Winks is yet another player struggling to get game time at Tottenham. The 26-year-old struggled to get regular time in midfield when Skipp and Hojbjerg were performing so well.
However the 21-year-old’s absence hasn’t done Winks any favours, as Bentancur has broken straight into Conte’s regular starting XI and made an immediate impact. Therefore when Skipp does return from injury, the Englishman’s chances of getting match minutes will be even less likely.
Winks has made 25 appearances for Spurs this season but started just nine games in the league. The midfielder has previously spoken about his love for the club but that, like any other player, he wants to be playing regular football.
Unless something dramatic changes and Winks does find himself getting played regularly, he could be another player whose future at the club is assessed when the summer window opens.
After a slow start to the season, Kane has been at his best recently, breaking records and performing well for both club and country. The striker has now scored 22 goals in 41 appearances for Spurs this season, with those numbers likely to rise in the final nine games of the campaign.
In an interview with Tottenham, former Spurs star Clive Allen was full of praise for the England captain. “Everyone knows Harry, everyone knows what he can do, they are all trying to stop him,” Allen admitted. “If you go into someone’s back yard, I would say they are even more determined to stop him scoring.
“He never ceases to amaze me. Every challenge put in front of him, he’s up to it and overcomes it. That’s the biggest compliment I can pay him.”
After the transfer saga he had last summer, everyone will be hoping the same doesn’t happen again. This could largely be dependent on if the Lilywhites manage to secure Champions League football for next season.
Whether they do or don’t, there is likely to be interest from various other clubs who want to sign the 28-year-old. However if Tottenham do finish outside of the top four, they may find it more difficult to keep the striker in N17.
There is still a number of games to go before the season finishes and it will not only be an important time for the aforementioned players, but also for Conte and the whole Tottenham squad.