An exciting young Tottenham team now stand at a crossroads after crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Juventus on Wednesday night. The exuberance of Spurs looked like it would be enough, but ultimately the experience of Juventus made the difference and they ruthlessly punished Tottenham. There are now two paths this team could take: learn from the defeat, regroup and return next season stronger than ever; or fall apart at the seams. This Spurs side is blessed with phenomenal potential, but we have been saying that for years now and some stars may decide to look elsewhere in search of glory, and higher wages.
Harry Kane, Dele Alli and co. only need look north to Manchester, where former teammate Kyle Walker is about to land a Premier League champions medal. City cruised past Basel into the quarter-finals of the Champions League and if you check out BetOnline and other well reviewed betting sites you will see that they are the favourites to win the competition. Walker, who left Tottenham last summer, is also earning a lot more money than his former teammates. After another missed chance at glory, those that remain at Spurs might be tempted to agitate for a move.
This looked like Tottenham’s best chance at winning the Champions League, after beating holders Real Madrid in the group stage and battling to a fantastic first leg 2-2 draw in Turin. But they froze at Wembley, anxious that they could not close out the win, and it ultimately cost them. Make no mistake, Kane, Christian Eriksen, Alli, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are the sort of players that would walk into the first team at an elite club like Real Madrid, Barcelona or Man Utd. Spurs have not enjoyed such an embarrassment of riches in many a decade, and if the group is broken up now you would have to say they underachieved, failed to deliver on their potential.
Daniel Levy therefore has a colossal juggling act on his hands. He is about to lead Spurs into a sparkly new stadium, so he is not exactly in a position to offer monster pay rises all round to bring his troops’ salaries in line with their Man City or Man Utd counterparts. Nor can he promise that he will break the bank to sign the sort of superstars that will allow Spurs to push on to the next level. Instead, he needs to convince the current group that they can enjoy the success and seize the silverware they crave by remaining at the club, to argue that they can improve collectively and deliver on their promise.
They are well behind Man City in the title race, so the FA Cup – from which Man City have already been eliminated – is now huge for Tottenham. Lifting a trophy above their heads could change the mind-set of these players, turn them into winners and convince them that they should stay in North London. Man Utd and Chelsea remain in the competition, but Tottenham have more than enough quality to usurp them.
The vultures will certainly come circling in the summer. Jose Mourinho has already tried and failed to land Eric Dier for Man Utd, and has long held an interest in Danny Rose, a man who has gone public with his displeasure at the wages Spurs pay. Real Madrid need to rebuild after a season of underachievement in La Liga, and they are said to be lining up a £200 million bid for Kane. Eriksen has been linked with Barcelona. Even Juventus need to rebuild their ageing defence and it is easy to see the likes of Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris becoming attractive to them and others. Big clubs will be in need of a manager in the summer and Mauricio Pocchetino will be a hugely appealing target.
It feels like if one or two go, the domino effect could destroy Spurs’ chances of immediate success. Levy is known as a fierce negotiator and he has the stubborn streak to keep this team together for at least another season or two. This group of players just needs to mature together, improve their self-belief and deliver the trophies everyone is so desperate to win.