James Regal is a Spurs fan living in Barcelona and the man behind ‘Mes que un Cock’, the utterly brilliant tagline for his Tottenham supporters’ group @BarcelonaSpurs, who welcome residents and tourists to watch Spurs games with them in the Catalan capital. Here he reviews the Lillywhites’ transfer window that started slowly, and ended in a flurry:
So another transfer window has been and gone and the daily rumours, rebuttals and terrible player announcement tweets are over for another few months. As exciting as it is to see which new stars are going to join your club next season, the constant blow-by-blow accounts of every tiny step towards a transfer in the current era has grown wearisome.
“He’s agreed terms. The clubs agreed a fee. He’s on his way to the airport now. He should be announced in ‘a matter of hours.’ He’s stopped for a quick coffee. The clubs didn’t actually agree anything. Oh wait, yes they did. Now he’s realised he left his favourite pants at home so has to go back. There’s a bit of traffic on the M25 but he’s honestly on his way to the training ground.” And on and on it went.
Tottenham ended last season with a monstrous run of form that, were it not for a ruthlessly efficient Chelsea, could have seen them lift the title for the first time since 1961. Despite an astonishing 12 wins in the final 13 games, the fans widely agreed that we were still in need of some fresh blood. Particularly players who could actually make an impact off the bench when called upon, and ideally with a name that didn’t start with N-apostrophe.
Things didn’t start well for the expectant fans. Tottenham had the unenviable honour of being the last Premier League club to sign a player – and that was a 3rd choice goalkeeper from Southampton. Chairman Daniel Levy, AKA Deadline Day Daniel, has a well-earned reputation for his tough bargaining and last minute brinkmanship. No one doubts he has the best interests of the club at heart, however sometimes Spurs fans feel that this is at the expense of early season results. Spurs are notoriously slow starters in the league and it surely can’t help when the new recruits aren’t integrated during pre-season. Things reached boiling point after an ill-timed Danny Rose interview that seemed to suggest the club was not matching the ambition of its star men.
As ever, we were linked with an endless list of players from all over the world. Some plausible, some the stuff of pipe dreams. Many fans were crying out for a pacy winger, demanding bids for Draxler, Lemar, Keita Balde and others. But this was never likely. Anyone who’s watched Spurs under Pochettino should know that we’ve not operated successfully with this type of player in the team since the Argentinian joined the club. The failed experiments with Sissoko, N’Jie and N´Koudou are testament to that. The team does woefully lack pace, and it would be nice to have another way to switch things up, but for now it looks like Spurs will continue to rely on the speed out wide coming from the full backs.
Perhaps the most important objective at the start of the window was to keep this fine young team together. Barring the sale of out-of-favour Kyle Walker for an eye-watering fee, that mission was achieved and should not be thought of as anything other than a huge success. In seasons past, Spurs would have struggled to keep hold of players like Alli, Eriksen, Alderweireld, Kane et al. But Pochettino seems to have the key players convinced that this team is going places and trophies are just around the corner.
As expected, Spurs came alive in the latter days of the window. First came big Davinson Sanchez, a powerful, young and quick centre back from Ajax. It was perhaps surprising that we should smash our record transfer for an unproven defender, but anyone who has seen him play in the Eredivisie knows that this kid has bundles of potential.
Two more defenders were to join our ranks. Argentinian youngster Juan Foyth, who it’s said that Pochettino rates highly, and the somewhat controversial signing of Ivorian Serge Aurier from PSG. On the face of it, the latter is an outstanding signing. A genuine winner coming into his prime years who can provide the sort of pace and power from full-back that was lost when Walker decided he missed living up North. However, Aurier comes with a tarnished reputation and a lot to prove to a large number of Spurs fans, many of whom wrote to the club to express their displeasure in advance of his arrival.
Possibly most surprising was the last-minute capture of Fernando Llorente from Swansea. The robust, dreamy-eyed Spaniard has been linked with Spurs for what seems like a decade, and at 32 is a big departure from a typical Pochettino signing. It could be argued Llorente is exactly what Spurs have been crying out for. An experienced winner who can give a very different option off the bench, he’s dominant in the air and has proven himself in the league by scoring 15 goals for a struggling Swansea team last season.
In terms of departures, other than Kyle Walker, Spurs didn’t lose anyone of major significance. The portly Kevin Wimmer, well-liked by fans and team-mates alike, joined Stoke for a fee far higher than he was probably worth. Fazio, Bentaleb and N’Jie’s loan moves were made permanent. Promising youngsters Cameron Carter-Vickers and Josh Onomah were given loans to the Championship as they look to establish themselves in the senior game.
Overall, most Spurs fans are happy with our summer dealings. The squad looks stronger than it did when the window began, which is usually all you can hope for. The club recouped almost as much as was spent, maintaining Levy’s excellent track record of fiscal prudence. Perhaps the only piece missing was another attacking midfielder to challenge Eriksen and Alli. Ross Barkley looks likely to take that role in the next window if he manages to prove his fitness.
In a summer that saw some of the most insane transfer business ever witnessed, it’s heartening to see Spurs staying true to their principles, trying to do things ‘the right way.’ Whether that will be enough to finally see this talented team make the final step and win major honours remains to be seen.
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