SN Blog 62 – Its 511 without a first team signing

So at the time of writing this, as could change any moment, its been 511 days since Tottenham last signed a first team player.  Now, I have not counted personally, that number is being widely reported and to be blunt I have not double checked it as…. cant be arsed however its 100% in that ball park.  Our last signing was Lucas Moura, the Brazilian joined from PSG in the Winter transfer window of 2018.

In that time since we last signed a player we have managed to move into our new home stadium, remain in the Champions League by finishing fourth in the Premier League and we have reached our first ever Champions League final – we sadly lost – however it is an achievement being the second best team in Europe in the 2018/19 season.

So, we are doing okay right?  Why do we need to sign anyone!!??  …. Now, do not panic, I am not Daniel Levy writing this blog this is still me.  However it is an interesting debate; a small bit of luck and last season could have easily seen a trophy lifted – that Champions League final penalty decision… the League cup draw could have handed us Burton in the semi not Chelsea… penalty shootouts … small margins and now the season is over and the emotion has gone it is easier to look and realise; damn… we were close.

So again, surely that shows spending big and signing players doesn’t not mean everything.  Hell I remember a time we would spend money every window, we would see two or three new faces under various managers and we never lifted trophies then either…  However I think the key thing when it comes to recruitment which has eluded us for far to long is signing the right player.

Last season we said goodbye to our midfield general Mousa Dembele who left to play in China.  Well know, as the player openly talked about it, he wanted to leave the Premier League behind to prolong his career as was struggling and in pain all of the time.  It was sad to see him go but what it showed us all as fans and I believe the management we really do lack strength in depth when it comes to central midfield and his ability to retain the ball, transition from defence to attack etc was so important to our team.

There is a good argument (backed by a lot of stats I will not bore you with) that says the reason Eriksen did not look as good as most would expect last season is that he was not getting the protection previously afforded by having Dembele there.  In fact its a real mainstay of our team under Poch that we have a defensive midfielder covering our full backs who bomb foward and another deep lying midfielder who is all about being box to box, energy and power… and then ahead of them Eriksen, Dele etc providing real goal threat.

I know he was injured a lot and clearly suffering with post World Cup fatigue (like many) but Harry Kane also never it the form many would expect last season; even in games he scored he did not look as lethal.  Here is a stat from Opta, Harry averaged 12 shots per league game in 2017/18 but in 2018/19 only 5.  He simply was not having a go as much, didn’t back himself, didn’t have the time… not in the right positions?  Again, I wonder if its down to the personnel.

Knowing his injury record Spurs have been scouting for a replacement for Dembele for three years, they knew whoever was signed would have big shoes to fill and so needed to make the right move.  The player identified by Steve Hitchen was Tanguy Ndombele and we have been interested in him for some time.

Many having seen us being linked to a circa £65m deal for this player might be right in wondering who is he; however I can assure you that the club have watched every game he has played for the last two seasons minimum.  Pochettino made him his number one transfer target, that he could do without any other players as long as he got this one.

Something I have always said when it comes to transfers.  Getting the manager who he wants is and always should be the most important thing.  If he is wrong, he will fall on his sword but if you get him back up options all the time (N’Koudou, N’Jie… N’eed I go on with this list…) then it is hard to judge.  Land him his A targets and … well…. expectations are the club will improve.

It is a valid expectation too as last season our form was patchy at best.  When asked about this in the Spanish press Pochettino had an interesting response;

“… what we have found is our lowest level is poor.  It is relegation worthy.  We lose games to teams we should not lose too.  However our highest level is one of the best in the World.  We can beat anyone and often do.  It is what do we do to lift our minimum level.  Liverpool did it.  They went and recruited players in each position they saw they needed to get people in and now their lowest level is good enough to beat us in a Champions League final.  A poor final, we were not at our best but nor were they and yet they managed to win with a level of comfort.  We must raise our lowest level and when we do this we as a team will improve.  Defeats will become draws or wins and we will challenge at a higher level…..”

In addition to the heavily scouted Tanguy Ndombele Pochettino has also asked the club to move for an exciting young English player that his mentor and friend Bielsa recommended to him personally.  Young Jack Clarke, 18, had his first team breakthrough season last year in the Championship and impressed many.

It signals a return to a transfer policy which has in the past served us well; signing both players for now and young players we want to make an impact now sure but also for the future.  The balance of the squad of experienced players and youth is something Pochettino has always managed well.

In addition to these two that are reportedly close to signing we are also looking at four more players joining this summer BUT what is clear after these two deals is that any more business will depend a lot on outgoing players.  We all know the Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld situations; both look likely to leave and if they do then recruiting two more players in this positions would be important and it would free up funds to do just that.

Also, there are squad players who are available to leave.  Janssen, Nkoudou, Lamela, Wanyama, Trippier Onomah and Carter-Vickers have all been made available according to reports in the various new outlets.  You can add other names to that list depending on where you read the story but the before mentioned names are the consistent few who crop up on all of them.

We have already said goodbye to Michel Vorm as his contract expired and look likely (although not confirmed yet) to be saying goodbye to Fernando Llorente when his deal ends soon.  Two more squad places open.  Who will be our third choice keeper for next season?  Having one classed as home grown due to squad rules would make sense.

Its an exciting time in a lot of ways and there is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes trying to not only secure those A targets the manager wants but also to create the space and indeed the money needed.  In the next two weeks expect to hear more about outgoings than you do incoming is my suspicion.

The transfer window closes at 5pm on Thursday 8th August 2019; could be an interesting one this year!!  COYS!!

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