COMMENTARY | AZ Alkmaar and United States Men's National Team forward Jozy Altidore seems set to make an exit to a top-flight club located in either England, Germany or Italy this summer. The information that had been told to me by two knowledgeable individuals near the end of June was that Sunderland were the heavy favorites to land the US front man, and Sky Sports and other sources reiterated similar stories during the first two days of July. Those rumblings have since been confirmed, but perhaps not in the way that some would have imagined.
The Shields Gazette, citing RTV Noord Holland, posted a story on its official website on July 2 that AZ has rejected Sunderland's first bid for the US international who scored 31 goals for his club across all competitions during the 2012-13 campaign. Reports are that the Black Cats offered in the neighborhood of £5m for Altidore. I had been informed that AZ were looking to bring in around £5-6m in any upcoming deal, but it's possible that Altidore's scintillating national team form has his current club seeing dollar signs.
Altidore buried four goals in four games for the USMNT last month; one in a friendly against Germany, and one tally apiece in the team's three World Cup Qualifiers. He has, since the end of the 2012-13 season, been linked with several clubs other than Sunderland, including Schalke, Fulham, and Lazio.
So where does Tottenham Hotspur come into play? Spurs are a club with a history of buying low and then selling high down the road (Luka Modric is just one example). Unless Altidore is unable to carry his current form over to a league such as the EPL, this summer is the time for Tottenham to strike. It also doesn't hurt that Spurs are desperately in need of forwards, as there are several rumors floating about that both Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor could make exits from White Hart Lane before August arrives.
I had been told as recently as last week that Tottenham were not in the running for Altidore, largely because the club is already happy with how its popularity has grown/is still growing in the United States. Americans Brad Friedel and Clint Dempsey are already in the current squad, and grabbing Altidore, when manager Andre Villas-Boas has other targets in mind, just because of where the striker grew up didn't make much sense at the time.
That may no longer be the case after the opening week of July. It was announced on July 1 that Brazilian midfielder Paulinho will be joining Tottenham this week after Spurs matched the player's £17m release clause. Spurs are also reportedly close to signing three other players, including attacking midfielder Alen Halilovic and Barcelona star David Villa. These acquisitions, along with other moves that are likely coming down the road, could leave Dempsey out of AVB's first-choice lineup.
Dempsey won't be hurting for playing time even if he's relegated to the bench on Premier League weekends. Spurs will once again be in the Europa League, and there will also be numerous cup matches for the American to play in. Dempsey turned 30-years old this past March, however, and it's not crazy to suggest that he could want one more spell of regular first-team Premier League football before eventually making another move, possibly to Major League Soccer.
Were Dempsey to make such a request, that would leave Tottenham with only Friedel, who will be out of contract next May. Friedel will turn 43-years at that time, and he is reportedly eying either a permanent move to the TV booth or one final fling with a MLS club before officially calling time on his playing career. Spurs are scheduled for another US tour next summer, one that could include a friendly against Real Madrid.
Tottenham are probably going to want a big-name American in the team when they return to the States.
Two barriers that would keep this transaction from even being considered by either party is that it's the type of deal that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy would usually execute in late August, not early July, and it would do Altidore little good to wait until the final hour to make a move as did Dempsey last August. The truth is that a lot would have to happen for Altidore to find himself wearing Tottenham Lilywhite this coming August.
We all said the same thing last year when those "Dempsey to Spurs" rumors first arose.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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