Daniel Levy is facing up to a nightmare.
Next summer, Tottenham Hotspur could lose three first-team players – three players who played in the Champions League final – for absolutely nothing.
Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are all in the final year of their current deals.
Eriksen, of course, could still leave this summer; the European transfer window is still open and he has batted his eyelashes at both Barcelona and Real Madrid but neither of them seem interested.
Vertonghen, for reasons that appear related to his contract situation, hasn’t played for the club yet this season despite Davinson Sanchez’s clear deficiencies as his replacement. Sources have suggested that there may have been a private falling out between the defender and Pochettino but that, clearly, cannot be proven.
Alderweireld is the only one of the trio still playing regularly but he is not at his usual, colossal best. Spurs have yet to keep a clean sheet this season but that may speak more to Sanchez’s inclusion and the introduction of Kyle Walker-Peters as their starting right-back than Alderweireld’s lack of form.
And yet this is a situation that is remarkably out of keeping with Spurs’ usual modus operandi.
They are the ones with their house in order, the business being done quietly and efficiently.
They are not Arsenal, the club who tied themselves into a £350,000-per-week contract with Mesut Ozil, a player who belongs on a missing person’s poster after most major encounters; the club who allowed Aaron Ramsey to negotiate a free transfer to Juventus; the club who failed to tie Alexis Sanchez down to a new deal and were eventually fortunate – or perhaps a little unfortunate – to get Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return for his services.
Spurs are now in that exact situation. Sources confirmed to Football FanCast that the club actively attempted to sell Eriksen this summer in order to avoid the nightmare scenario of him leaving on a free.
Now, though, there is the very real possibility that there could be a need for a revolution at Spurs next summer.
Consider the prospect of all three players leaving. That’s two centre-backs needing replacing and an attacking midfielder with no money to reinvest from the sales. Then consider the players who are out of contract the year following: Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko, Danny Rose and Victor Wanyama. At least three of those players would be remarkably hard to replace in the current market.
Spurs, then, are edging nearer a precipice which Arsenal fell over.
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The Ramsey situation was a bizarre one but he continued to play in his final season at the club, actually chalking up a total of 40 appearances in all competitions. He scored six goals, provided eight assists and was never once booked.
He represented his side with aplomb and his performances only added to a feeling that he was reminding the club of his value before his move.
He is reported to be earning £400,000-per-week at Juventus.
The same riches could await for Spurs’ trio, should they decide to pursue a move.
Levy, at the very least, will hope they follow Ramsey’s lead of continuing to uphold their professionalism and dedication to the cause.
He must attempt to find a solution, though, to avoid the end result being the same, three times over.
This is a problem Arsenal have encountered before