Andre Villas-Boas insisted yesterday that competition for places was the only reason Michael Dawson had been allowed to speak with Queen's Park Rangers. Dawson is one of five centre-backs at Tottenham Hotspur, and Villas-Boas said this overstocking was why the England international was talking to QPR. The new Spurs manager did not say why Dawson, rather than the others, was in this position.
"When there are four central defenders it is already a difficult situation," said Villas-Boas. "Normally, teams are balanced with three, and one young player coming through. With five, it is a difficult situation. It is an excellent situation for the manager but it is a difficult situation for the player."
As well as Dawson, Tottenham have William Gallas, Younes Kaboul, Steven Caulker and new signing Jan Vertonghen. "I just said that four central defenders is a lot," Villas-Boas explained. "We have to speak to the players and the players understand it. The players, normally, have high expectations for the season, which is fair. It is more up to them to compete with each other to make the manager think about what is best for the team. With five, it is an extremely difficult situation because you just cannot spread opportunities with everybody."
Although none of the other centre-backs are likely to leave during the transfer window, Villas-Boas denied that Dawson was the fifth choice out of five: "What I told him is I can't promise any player that he will be playing in two weeks' time, three weeks' time, four weeks' time. I don't know how it happens. Neither can I categorise who is my first, who is my second, who is my third, my fourth, my fifth. It just doesn't happen like that."
Villas-Boas was keen to point out, though, that this was no judgement on Dawson, and that he would be happy to have him for the rest of the season. "Michael is a player of immense human dimension and an extremely good player," he said. "He is an English international which we respect. In my conversation with Michael, things were very open. We would listen to offers but, if the scenario at the end of the transfer window ended up with Michael staying, it would be an extremely good privilege for us. That's how we approach the market on Michael's situation. The player trained today, so he is in contention for the game against West Brom."
One area where Tottenham's business is finished is up front. Emmanuel Adebayor has joined permanently and Spurs look unlikely to sign Brazil international Leandro Damiao. When asked whether Spurs would sign another forward, Villas-Boas was not confident: "I don't think so. In my opinion, what we want to build is a team that has one striker up front in our ideal system. With Adebayor, [Jermain] Defoe and Harry Kane coming through, I think I have enough options. In football, you never know, but I think it is pretty much done."
The other remaining issue to be resolved is Luka Modric, with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy still talking to Real Madrid about a fee. "The situation is in the chairman's hands," Villas-Boas said. "The chairman has told me the talks are ongoing. They are doing some progress and the situation can be solved within the next couple of days. At the moment, the player continues to train apart and we will keep it like that until the end of the transfer window, I guess." Villas-Boas said Porto midfielder Joao Moutinho, a potential replacement, was too expensive.
The manager denied reports that Rafael van der Vaart was due to move back to Hamburg. "He's a player obviously I count on," he said. "He's a player of great importance for us. I'm not sure if Hamburg are interested but he is a player who, at the moment, is not for sale."