The following article is a special report; all information presented has been gleaned from Football FanCast sources unless otherwise stated.
Mauricio Pochettino began the summer calling on Tottenham Hotspur to revamp the squad and endure a “painful” rebuild.
As the deadline closed on Thursday at 5pm, one has to ask: Did they achieve it?
First things first, as there really is only one place to start, Spurs pursued Paulo Dybala. The Juventus forward, an elite striker who has scored a hatful of goals in Serie A, was deemed a shockingly attainable target.
Pochettino likes him and sources have confirmed to Football FanCast that he informed Daniel Levy, his chairman, of his desire to sign him.
Those inside the club always felt they were outsiders, that Manchester United’s interest could put the kibosh on them having any chance of bringing Dybala to north London. But then something strange happened: United pulled out. Reports suggest that the image rights issue – they are owned by a separate company – was too big a hurdle to overcome.
Nevertheless, Spurs continued to try right up until deadline day. One source at the club, as late as Thursday morning, told FFC that there was “confidence” a deal could be reached.
It all fell apart. A multitude of reasons have been quoted elsewhere but FFC was told that it was the image rights again. There was simply no way to disentangle the wires. Dybala was keen to play under Pochettino and Levy wanted to make it happen; Juventus were willing to sell, too. It just fell away at the last moment.
If it feels like a disappointment, perhaps it shouldn’t.
Spurs exceeded their club-record transfer to sign Tanguy Ndombele earlier in the transfer window, paying around £55m to Lyon for the midfielder’s signature. His capture was announced on the same day as Jack Clarke, the young winger who has been loaned back to Leeds United.
Ndombele, by all accounts, was the top target this summer, the player Pochettino most wanted. His early acquisition has allowed him the benefit of a full pre-season and he essentially replaces Mousa Dembele, who left the club in January. Sources at the club are very excited about the Frenchman and believe he could be a key asset this season.
The former was another top target but Real Betis, the club from which he has been signed, were in no real mood to negotiate, at least not initially.
Sources at the club have claimed that the Spanish club twice moved the goalposts, with Levy having agreed a fee for the 23-year-old.
As recently as Wednesday evening, the deal was being reported as being worth £55m but instead, Spurs have brought Lo Celso in on loan.
This could, in part, be due to the sell-on clause that Betis owe PSG for a player who struggled at Parc des Princes, but it also explains why negotiations were so lengthy and so complex.
There was even a suggestion from some sources that the club considered pulling out of talks at one stage to pursue Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes but that never went anywhere and, obviously, it was Lo Celso who was holding his Spurs shirt up for the cameras on Thursday.
Sessegnon’s deal dragged, too, with sources claiming that the club were initially hoping to sign both Ryan and his brother Steven. In the end, the negotiations came down to Fulham taking a player in part-exchange plus a significant fee, believed to be an initial £25m.
Josh Onomah was ultimately the sacrificial lamb and he will link up with Scott Parker on a permanent deal.
All four players, including Clarke, were targeted at the beginning of the window and all have been signed.
There has been less good news on the departures, however.
Fernando Llorente’s contract expired but sources insist he could still come back, while Michel Vorm, the goalkeeper, was released.
The likes of Georges-Kevin N’Koudou and Victor Wanyama, both deemed expendable at the beginning of the summer, are still around, while uncertainty clouds the futures of Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld.
Eriksen has previously expressed a desire to move and it is believed he has a preference to join a Spanish club as he seeks a lifestyle change. As yet, there has not been a bid from either Real or Atletico Madrid, though the transfer window in Spain does not close until the end of the month.
Rose was at the centre of a strange deadline day saga as he travelled to Watford’s training ground, only for Spurs to reject two bids from the Hornets for him.
Alderweireld’s £25m release clause has expired but interest in him remains and, as with Eriksen, the club now face a decision: They can either cash in now and bank the money, or run the risk of losing them on a free transfer next summer.
In the end, the club have ended up with four players coming in – three, in real terms, with Clarke’s loan – and, really, only one first-team player going out.
In terms of squad depth, that can be seen as a good thing, but it probably falls some way short of what Pochettino meant when he said he wanted to rebuild this squad.
At least his targets are in though, and with the European window remaining open for another few weeks, he may still get his wish.