With the 2019 Champions League Finals around the corner, we’re tackling Liverpool and Tottenham’s summer transfer targets.
We covered Liverpool summer transfer targets this weekend. Now it’s time for Tottenham Hotspur, the vanilla ice cream of the Big 6. Nobody truly hates Spurs, they’re pretty inoffensive, and sometimes you’re just kind of like, “Yeah, I forgot vanilla is pretty good sometimes.”
This could and should be incredibly brief. Over the past year, Spurs literally bought no one. Not a single person.
However, their gazillion-dollar stadium is now built which opens up greater revenue potential. And they’ll have a windfall of (most likely) $90M to (less likely) $100M in UCL winnings.
Will they actually spend it? If so, how?
Let’s go shopping!
Tottenham Summer Transfer Targets
- Depth in general
- Attacking midfielder
Chops: Ok, Spurs HAVE TO buy someone this summer right?
Tyler: It would blow my mind if they stood pat yet again. The recent lack of spending hasn’t made a ton of sense to me, and it would be even more ludicrous this year considering the impending windfall from the UCL. How do you explain to your fans that you can’t make any signings after you get an unexpected cash injection of around $90M?
Katya: Completely agree with Tyler – if this summer isn’t the time for the Spurs to do at least a little shopping, I don’t know when it would be. Keeping your team the same and building it up has its benefits (like making it to the Champions League final) but eventually, it needs new blood and a new outlook.
Chops: It’s not just that they have UCL money coming in, they may actually be sellers. Christian Eriksen has been a Real Madrid target for what feels like years. If they do sell him, that’s someone they must replace. What other spots in their roster need to be bolstered?
Katya: With a high likelihood of Eriksen leaving to Madrid, the midfield will definitely be missing some of its depth. Not to mention, they would benefit from a box to box midfielder – I wonder if the Spurs will reignite their interest in Adrien Rabiot. It was rumored that Rabiot’s sign on fee demand was pretty outrageous – perhaps, he may rethink his demands just a bit for the Champions League finalists/possible winners.
Tyler: Eriksen would be a big loss, obviously. I’d like to add here, though, that I don’t sense a move to Madrid. Maybe such a transfer is in the works, quietly. But most players who end up with RM are the subject of rumblings from As and Marca, among others, that start months before a deal is signed. Eden Hazard has been considered a lock for months, and a slew of other names have been mentioned in recent months. But at the moment, the Spanish papers have not given me the sense that this is imminent, for whatever that’s worth. And he could always leave Tottenham for one of a number of other European powers besides Los Blancos.
At any rate, the midfield would arguably be OK if Eriksen bolts, especially when Son Heung-min lines up there. If this team is healthy — as we saw this year, that’s unfortunately a massive if — it is talented up top and in the midfield.
The issue is depth and the backline. To me, the best “available” player who is proven, but still in his prime, is Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane. He would help Spurs immensely. He reportedly wants out of Madrid, but as we talked about in the Let’s Go Shopping! for Manchester United, he’s going to require a hell of an outlay.
Chops: Is there a “Poch” player? As in, what player would be an ideal fit for Mauricio Pochettino?
Katya: This is a tough one. But I will says this – it seems that Poch really values mentality over technical ability. Considering the fact that, at this level, any player will come with technical ability – if we take a look at how Spurs have played in the Champions League from the perspective of their team unity, fight, and passion, we can see that this mentality has been honed at Tottenham. With this being said, Poch needs a hard working player who won’t cause problems off the field and is reliable on the field.
Tyler: To echo Katya, there’s not one that immediately comes to mind. If the top characteristics Poch is seeking are mental toughness and perseverance, his targets are probably pretty under-the-radar right now — grit doesn’t land you on a lot of online wish lists. Tottenham has never hesitated to look to Amsterdam for up-and-comers from Ajax. It’s hard to call anyone on that roster “unheralded” after that incredible UCL run. But I’ll float defenders Nicolás Tagliafico (26) and Noussair Mazraoui (21) as players who might follow the Amsterdam-to-London path. Spurs fans would certainly welcome the latest in a long pipeline that includes current players Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez.
Chops: Mazraoui in particular makes sense. Big clubs have (mostly) gotten smart on what age to buy players, and he helps strengthen a long-in-the-tooth backline.
What will it take for Spurs to catch either Manchester City or Liverpool, other than breaking FFP regulations like the Sky Blues?
Tyler: The entire organization will have to adapt a very different mindset to close the gap on the teams at the top of the EPL. Because the Champions League is formatted in a way that makes upsets commonplace, runs like the one Spurs are on this year are possible even if your roster leaves something to be desired. That’s not the case domestically, where you play 38 games, meaning the deepest, most talented teams are going to pull away in the standings.
Maybe the windfall from both the Champions League and the deal with whoever signs on as title sponsor of Spurs’ beautiful new home — I can’t imagine it remains “Tottenham Hotspur Stadium” for long — will prompt Daniel Levy to change his ways and open up his wallet. Otherwise, third or fourth place in the EPL is going to remain this team’s ceiling. At some point soon, Spurs are also going to lose Pochettino if the “no incoming transfers” policy stays in place.
Speaking of Poch, how seriously should we take his comment — prior to leg 2 of the semifinals — about possibly leaving the club if it raises the UCL trophy on June 1? Could the winner of the Champions League drop the mic/trophy (see Zinedine Zidane/Real Madrid a year ago) and walk away in back-to-back years?? Seriously, though, is this a good time to talk about how much longer we should expect Poch to stay with this team?
Katya: Playing catch-up with the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool is a tough one – especially if, like Tyler mentioned, Daniel Levy isn’t willing to “open up his wallet.” Money is king and Manchester City and Liverpool have both spent quite a lot on transfers in the past – with Liverpool dropping the most cash out of all the EPL teams last summer.
In regards to Poch’s comment about leaving if the club hoists the UCL trophy – I have a feeling that Poch would come back for more. It definitely would be a tough accomplishment to repeat, but he would have something else he could focus on as well: catching up to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City…
Chops: Ok, let’s narrow this down and see if there is anyone that makes sense based on their past history. While Spurs didn’t buy anyone last year, they did the two previous summers (while shipping Kyle Walker out to Manchester City).
As Tyler noted, Spurs have history with Ajax. Their record signing (Davinson Sánchez) came from there for $45.6M. They’ve done some business with Newcastle as well, shipping out DeAndre Yedlin ($6.73M) and bringing in Moussa Sissoko ($39.9M). Semifinal savior Lucas Moura came from PSG for $32.38M.
Those are the parameters. With that in mind, I’m going to steal an idea Tyler had in the Liverpool summer transfer edition and say Donny van de Beek makes sense as a Christian Eriksen facsimile. The price and pipeline make sense.
Fortunately for Rafa Benítez, there’s not a player on Newcastle whose contract or age make a ton of sense for Tottenham. However, there is one from Paris Saint-Germain: Timothy Weah. On loan to Celtic, PSG has indicated they’ll listen to offers for the US international. He could help provide attacking depth and U.S. market access for Spurs (opening up a revenue stream from a new fanbase for the club if he does well). Make that one happen, Spurs. Do we have to do all of the hard work for you?
Tyler: It will be interesting to see what happens with van der Beek. Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars has said publicly that the club will do what it takes to keep both him and Manager Erik ten Hag. It strikes me as something that will be far easier said than done, but maybe the Dutch side can keep a few coveted pieces a year longer than many expect them to.
Chops: Given the financial windfall Ajax is going to see from the UCL and selling players like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, maybe we need to do a Let’s Go Shopping for them. Ajax is going to be sitting on potentially $200M in newfound cash this summer.
Regardless, Fulham and Londener Ryan Sessègnon is expected to join Spurs to bolster their midfield. He’s not exactly the “challenge City” import that moves the needle. Same goes for 19 year-old attacking midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo from Roma. Maybe one of these targets becomes a start like Son or Kane. Under Poch, that’s possible.
However, the reality is until Tottenham are willing to splash on a few true blue chippers, they’ll be perpetually playing European football without competing for actual titles. Maybe that’s enough for ownership. It won’t be enough for Poch. You simply don’t hear Tottenham even mentioned for the same targets that City, United, Madrid, Barca, and to a lesser degree, Liverpool are linked to in the press.
The way soccer’s landscape is shifting, as the rich keep getting richer (and buying the best players), this really is a pivotal summer for the Spurs. They have to start spending. If not now, then when?