With as much attention the World Cup got from football fans over the past month, it has been easy to forget that the Premier League transfer window is right over the horizon. The window officially closes on August 9th, and while many clubs did their due diligence and confirmed their signings early, several others have remained stationary, waiting until the last moment to grab their favourite player.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Tottenham currently belong in the later, as Spurs are one of just two Premier League clubs that haven’t made a single signing this summer. It remains simply confounding that the Spurs haven’t thought it necessary to improve on one position for the past three months.
This probably hasn’t come as a surprise to Spurs fans, as chairman Daniel Levy has made a habit of twiddling his thumbs until the final moments of the transfer window in an effort to find the best value deals. It’s not a completely illogical plan — while clubs like Liverpool and West Ham have burned a hole in their pockets by giving out multi-million pound deals like candy, the idea is that Tottenham will be able to find the diamonds in the rough at half the cost.
But the nature of this year makes this age-old process an antiquated one, and there is reason to believe Tottenham’s hesitation to do anything this summer will really come back to bite them.
First, Spurs boast a strong roster, one that accomplished a third-place finish in the Premier League. Harry Kane finished second in goals (30) only to Mohamed Salah, thanks in large part to Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, who both plugged ten assists. It’s a side with top-four quality, but as we see very summer, each club have things to improve upon. To say Tottenham are exempt from that would be foolish.
Tottenham are fortunate in that they developed one of the best pure scorers around in Kane, but they don’t have a player outside of him that can pick up the scoring mantle. If Kane were to get injured next season, Spurs would struggle to find the net. Moreover, the north Londoners have several players due to come off the books after this season.
Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertoghen, Mousa Dembele, Fernando Llorente and Michel Vorm all have contracts expiring in 2019 and while the latter two won’t be significant losses, the first three will.
Of course, this is all assuming the current squad makeup is perfect, which, also of course, it isn’t. When using a 4-2-3-1, Tottenham boast a front-four Kane, Eriksen, Alli and Son Heung Min that can match up with the best clubs in the Premier League. All four are under contract for considerable time except for Eriksen, whose deal is up in 2020.
But if you move down the pitch, there are chinks in Tottenham’s armor that could have used strengthening this summer. Take Hugo Lloris, the French goalkeeper who has a strong reputation but didn’t have the best season for the Spurs. Lloris ranked just 13th in the Premier League with 86 saves in 2017/18, and he made just 2.18 saves per goal. A move for Alisson Becker — who’s just arrived at Liverpool — would have been drastic, but an improvement might have been necessary.
Ultimately for Tottenham, though, it will all come down to the final week of the transfer window because that’s how Levy does this. But it’s peculiar that he’s insistent on remaining steadfast with this gamble of a strategy considering the unique nature of this offseason. Not only did the World Cup prevent teams from negotiating with players for a large chunk of time, but perhaps most importantly, the Premier League transfer window ends three weeks earlier than that of the other European leagues.
Contrary to past seasons, while Levy is rushing to get value deals done before the deadline, players and their agents will be very aware that they’ll have the rest of August to negotiate with teams in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A. From an agent’s standpoint, why allow your player to get plucked at the last minute when you can talk with other European teams for three more weeks?
Moreover, with players like Dembele and Alderweireld coming off the books after this season, Tottenham might sell them off after the Premier League window closes. Would they be fine, then, with beginning the season two or three players under the squad limit?
All in all, Tottenham still boast the quality of an elite team — that won’t change. They will in all likelihood finish in the top six, and it’s not impossible for them to make a run for the title. But Levy has put them in a peculiar, difficult position when it really isn’t necessary. What exactly are Spurs waiting for?