Tottenham Hotspur have just concluded what has to be considered one of the most successful seasons in club history, despite clinching fourth in the Premier League by one point.
That is because, despite having spent absolutely no money on transfers since January 2018, Spurs reached their first Champions League final in club history, albeit a 2-0 loss to Liverpool.
That’s right, Spurs had gone two straight transfer windows (roughly 16 months) without buying one senior player, making them the only club in the Premier League with that distinction.
This spend-less streak appears to finally be over as there have been strong indications that the club will attempt to shore up some of its glaring weaknesses this summer.
We won’t go into the many theories or reasons as to why the club did not spend money, but will instead use this opportunity to do a position-by-position review of the 2018-19 season, the potential starting lineup for 2019-20, and some other potential targets.
The current state of the midfield will be a little complicated, as the team saw numerous shifts of form and starters to compensate for a seemingly constant stream of injuries to the already thin position.
Some predictions for the upcoming season will be longer than others in light of some positions being in more flux than others, namely Central Midfielder, Right Back, Back-up Forward.
Starter: Harry Kane
Back-up: Fernando Llorente, Vincent Janssen, Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura
Another season has passed, and it was business as usual for star forward Harry Kane. When healthy, Kane gives Spurs one of the most dangerous threats in front of goal in the world. The problem is that Kane had another season dealing with injuries, and it highlighted the long-standing problem of the lack of an impactful back-up. While Fernando Llorente definitely had his moments, he struggled to find the goal this season. Son and Moura filled in admirably when called upon, but with either starting up top, there is virtually zero depth left to cover their positional shifts.
Projected Starter: Harry Kane
Potential Targets: Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Maxi Gomez (Celta Vigo), Jack Clarke (Leeds United)
Reports indicate that Spurs have made a move for Callum Wilson this summer, with the Bournemouth striker proving his value by breaking into the England team. How he would feel about moving into a back-up role is another matter. There is also interest in bringing in the 22 year-old Gomez from Spain, though there seems to be no shortage of potential suitors for his services. The 18 year-old Clarke is a hot commodity these days, and is expected to fetch a pretty handsome transfer fee. Having said that, his positional versatility as a dual-winger and forward, along with the long-time need for an effective back-up for Harry Kane might make him worth it.
Starter: Christian Eriksen
Back-up: Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela
This is kind of a symbolic position for Eriksen, as he usually played in attacking midfield, or dropped deeper midfield to help cover for the severe lack of depth at the position. The Dane did not have his strongest season, but was still unassumingly very impactful offensively and proved once again to be one of the most durable players on the team, all while often having to play outside of his preferred role. Lucas Moura proved he could be the burst of energy, speed, and offense that we need flying up the right flank, and showed that he can be a starter for Spurs. Plus, he single-handedly got Spurs into the Champions League final.
Projected Starter: Lucas Moura
Potential Targets: Jack Clarke (Leeds United)
As stated previously, Moura has proven this season that he can hold down the right wing. The team could use some depth, particularly if Lamela continues to be an injury risk, though Jack Clarke would help with this.
Starter: Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen
Back-up: Erik Lamela
Dele had what would be considered a bit of a down year for his standards, having difficulty finding goal particularly in the second half of the season. As with his fellow attacking-midfielder, Eriksen, this could partially be attributed to his needing to drop back in midfield to compensate for Spurs’ alarming lack of depth this season. He was also notably playing through some injuries this season, including a broken arm down the stretch. Regardless, he’s still young, and has an opportunity for some improvement next season, even if his Danish running mate might be gone.
Projected Starter: Dele Alli, Giovani Lo Celso
Potential Targets: Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis), James Maddison (Leicester City), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting CP), Julian Draxler (PSG)
If Christian Eriksen is sold as expected, Spurs will need to spend big to get one of these guys. Lo Celso is being targeted as replacement in midfield, and can help provide some nice competition for Dele Alli. Spurs have already lodged an offer, and reports indicate that the Argentine is keen on joining Pochettino in North London. The club is also linked to England international James Maddison, but he would be difficult to get, with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool all linked. Reports indicate Spurs might be close to signing Fernandes, but this might be posturing in light of connections with Manchester United. Draxler may have reached the end of his road at PSG, and Spurs might try to capitalize on their good business relationship with the club to get him for a decent fee.
Starter: Moussa Sissoko and any one of Harry Winks, Eric Dier, or Victor Wanyama
Back-up: Whoever was healthy on the squad, Oliver Skipp
I could write an entire piece just about the dire central midfielder situation this season alone – between the already thin depth, the sale of a club talisman with no replacement lined up, ravaging injuries, and an overall lack of adequate quality, this became the weakest area of the team and highlighted the need for upgrades. One positive came in the form of the emergence of Moussa Sissoko as the rock of the midfield. After being the recipient of much fan ire his first couple of seasons, he emerged to become a much-needed source of control, energy, strength and durability in a position that was lacking these factors from virtually every other member of its corps.
Projected Starters: Harry Winks or Tanguy Ndombele
Potential Targets: Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon), Amadou Diawara (Napoli), Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Andre Gomes (Barcelona), Youri Tielemans (Monaco)
If Spurs are somehow able to get Ndombele this summer it would be the best-case scenario, as he immediately becomes the starting holding midfielder in Pochettino’s preferred 4-4-2 diamond. Amadou Diawara has also been linked to the club and provides some similarities to Ndombele. Billing has shown promise with recently-relegated Huddersfield, and is a homegrown talent as well. Rumours have also been swirling around interest in van de Beek, with some media outlets indicating he would be interested in joining Manchester United or Spurs. Realistically, any of these options would provide a much-needed upgrade
Starter: Son Heung-min
Back-up: Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela, Danny Rose
Fan favourite Son had a breakthrough season in which he took the next step as one of the best wingers in the Premier League. Playing at both left wing and as a fill-in striker with Harry Kane out, Son became an offensive force with his pace, ball control, durability, and finishing ability. While he may have faded a bit down the stretch, this was likely more a product of a grueling post-World Cup season that saw him play 53 matches, including winning a gold for South Korea at the Asian Cup. Son was one of the most consistent bright spots for the team this season.
Projected Starter: Son Heung-min
Potential Targets: Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Spurs’ links to Sessegnon date back more than a year, but their pursuit was put on pause last summer when Fulham were promoted. Now that the club has been relegated, Sessegnon is considered a top target for the club, and would provide the ability to cover the left wing rotation, but also to potentially shift to more of a left wing-back role.
Starter: Kieran Trippier
Back-up: Serge Aurier, Kyle Walker-Peters, Juan Foyth
After a summer in which a strong World Cup showing boosted hopes of a strong season, Kieran Trippier struggled to meet expectations, even by his own admission. While a serviceable rotation player, it became clear this season that while he had was a useful in offensive progression, he struggled in the defensive duties required by a Pochettino starting fullback. With rumours of a move away, it seems like his time at the club might be done. Serge Aurier seemed to be challenging for the starting spot at one point in the season, but an injury and a fall from grace with Pochettino saw the Ivorian fall out of the rotation toward the end of the season.
Projected Starter: Max Aarons (Norwich City) or Youcef Atal
Potential Targets: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace), Youcef Atal (Nice), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille)
This is probably the most difficult position to predict in light of the potential of seeing a total positional overhaul. As such, this one will be a bit of a dreamer’s gamble. Max Aarons has been impressive in the Championship this season, is young, and is English, and is likely to be more affordable than most other targets. As much as AWB might check off all the boxes for what Spurs are looking for in a RB, this appears to be the case for some of the wealthiest clubs in Europe as well, making this a bit of a long shot. There have been a lot of connections to Atal, and while he would check all the boxes for Spurs, Nice’s asking price might be just a little too rich, particularly given Levy’s penchant for gunning for cheap deals. There’s also the realistic possibility that whoever is left of Aurier/Trippier starts.
Right Centre Back
Starter: Toby Alderweireld
Back-up: Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth
Alderweireld has been a defensive stalwart for years, is half of what is arguably one of the strongest (if not THE strongest) centre back pairings in the Premier League, and is a fan favourite. Despite issues surrounding his contract, and seemingly falling out of grace late in the 2017-18 season as a result, he proved again why he is one of the best in the business this season, and how important his passing is to Pochettino’s offense as well. Unfortunately, with the club activating a one-year extension in his contract on January 2019, they also activated a £25 million release clause, leaving the player open to leave should any club meet that fee.
Projected Starter: Davinson Sanchez
Potential Targets: Joachim Andersen (Sampdoria), Robin Koch (Reiburg), Ben Godfrey (Norwich City)
In light of the very real possibility that Alderweireld will be gone next season, the mantle would be passed to Davinson Sanchez, who’s had two seasons to learn under the two Belgian CBs. However, the club would likely look to acquire some young depth, or competition for Sanchez, with Andersen being long mentioned as a potential target for Spurs – though there is competition from North London rivals Arsenal. Godfrey is also an intriguing option in light of his role in the recent promotion to the Premier League, his youth, and the fact that he is homegrown.
Left Centre Back
Starter: Jan Vertonghen
Back-up: Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth, Ben Davies
Not much more can be said about Jan Vertonghen than he performed the way we’ve come to expect. That’s a good thing, since he has been on of the most consistent and effective centre backs in the league for years. He had some slip-ups this season, but he can be forgiven for that given how many different roles he’s played and how versatile he’s been this season. Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth also showed flashes of promise when given the chance, but neither took the large leap expected. While it might be easy to assume neither of them will be as good as anticipated, it should be kept in mind that they are 22 and 21 respectively, and they have the benefit of time to develop.
Projected Starter: Jan Vertonghen
Potential Targets: Joachim Andersen (Sampdoria), Robin Koch (Reiburg), Ben Godfrey (Norwich City)
Not much will change here, with Jan expected to continue to be Ol’ Faithful at CB. The club will likely be looking for some depth at the position though, particularly should Toby Alderweireld depart.
Starter: Danny Rose
Back-up: Ben Davies, Jan Vertonghen
After spending much of the 2017-18 season in Pochettino’s dog house for making public his unhappiness and struggles with the club, Rose found his form and became an integral part of Spurs’ advancing wingback play. He was even asked at times to provide support in midfield to compensate for our lack of options (as discussed) when we wanted to play more defensively. It seems like, after a season in which few would be surprised if Rose was shipped out, he’s reaffirmed his spot. Ben Davies provides solid cover when needed (including at CB), despite his struggles with injury
Projected Starter: Danny Rose
Potential Targets: Steve Sessegon (Fulham), Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
While word in the media seems to be that Pochettino is open to offers for Rose, and while the player seems prepared for the possibility of being moved this summer, it seems like the team would be best served to keep one of its longest-serving players, particularly after a resurgent season.
Starter: Hugo Lloris
Back-up: Paulo Gazzaniga, Michel Vorm
Despite some puzzling errors, Hugo Lloris proved again why he is both Spurs’ and France’s captain, with a general consistency and shot-stopping heroics that have come to be expected between the posts. Paulo Gazzaniga was pushed into the rotation owing an injury to Michel Vorm and never looked back, supplanting him as GK2 for the future.
Projected Starter: Hugo Lloris
Potential Targets: Thomas Strakosha (Lazio)
It seems like business as usual for next season, with the top 2 GKs being kept in-place, and academy product Alfie Whiteman being promoted to GK3 with the departure of Vorm. There have been some links to Lazio’s Strakosha as a long-term replacement for Lloris, but nothing concrete there.
Entire Projected 2019-20 Roster
Heung-min Son (left), Lucas Moura (right)
Attacking: Dele Alli, Giovani Lo Celso
Central: Harry Winks or Tanguy Ndombele
Fullbacks: Danny Rose (left), Max Aarons or Youcef Atal (right)
Centre Backs: Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez
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