Tottenham Hotspur: A Short-Term Future Looking Increasingly Painful

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When former manager Mauricio Pochettino talked about a painful rebuild, even he could not have envisaged the uncertainty surrounding Tottenham Hotspur right now.

While director of football Fabio Paratici has pulled in two new players, other transfers seem to have stalled, and the players that need to be moved on are still at the club.

It leaves Nuno Espírito Santo with a season ahead where getting back into the top four looks unlikely and challenging for silverware is as far away for Spurs as it has been in recent years.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Short-Term Future

Transfers In and Out Leaving Little Time to Rebuild

Tottenham sacked Jose Mourinho just days before the 2021 Carabao Cup Final and went through what seemed a never-ending list of potential replacements. Former boss and fan favourite Pochettino was linked with a sensational return to the club; Antonio Conte held talks, only to end with the Italian feeling the club did not match his desires and ambitions for success. An ill-fated dalliance with Gennaro Gattuso ended when his comments on diversity came to light and fans made their views known, before finally an available manager was appointed in Espírito Santo.

Santo left Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, and now has the job of overseeing the painful rebuild that Pochettino talked about back in 2019 when he told the Evening Standard: “Now it’s about creating another chapter and to have the clear idea of how we are going to build that new project. We need to rebuild. It’s going to be painful.”

It is now 2021 and Tottenham are still a team that looks like a painful rebuild is needed. If such a rebuild is happening, it is slow and laborious, which has been a common theme under the stewardship of Daniel Levy and ENIC. The speed with transfer negotiations appear to be done continues to impact their short-term future both on and off the pitch.

Cristian Romero, Pierluigi Gollini and Bryan Gil: The Summer Transfers so Far

Paratici has been lauded as a master transfer negotiator, especially following his work at Juventus, where he was responsible for the signing of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Romero signed for Tottenham on August 6, with Gollini having already joined on loan from Atalanta. The former is a huge signing, with Toby Alderweireld having left Spurs and defence being an area where Spurs really struggled last season.

Also joining Spurs is exciting Spanish youngster Bryan Gil, who is a quick winger and expected to be a player who will excite and entertain fans in the way they want to be entertained.

Yet other deals, such as one for Bologna defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, seem to be stalling, and this raises another issue that is cause for concern.

Tottenham have several players that are expected to leave the club this summer, but they still remain in North London. Without them leaving, Paratici and Levy have a problem, as funds need to be raised before more players can be brought in. With not much time left until the new Premier League season begins, Spurs could be lining up with a similar team to the one that has been drifting backwards over the last three seasons.

Surplus to Requirements

According to The Athletic, Tottenham placed six players on the transfer list. Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Moussa Sissoko, Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela and Toby Alderweireld have all been told they can leave, but only two have left. Lamela has joined La Liga side, Sevilla, while Alderweireld has switched to Qatari side Al-Duhail.

Added to those players are others reportedly surplus to requirements such as Harry Winks and Eric Dier, as well as youth player Denis Cirkin, who is set for a permanent move to Sunderland.

Spurs also have an issue with Tanguy N’Dombele, who is said to be looking to leave the club after just two seasons.

Daniel Levy and Steve Hitchen – Tottenham’s Transfer Disaster Men

Hearing Tottenham criticised for not spending big enough and not spending to improve the squad are things that are heard frequently. They are concerns that are met with Levy responding that all funds are put back into the squad, and that success on the pitch is at the heart of what he and ENIC do at the club.

He told fans in his 2020/21 season review notes on the official website: “I have said it many times and I will say it again – everything we do is in the long-term interests of the club. I have always been and will continue to be ambitious for our club and its fans.”

Levy went on to add: “As a club we have been so focused on delivering the stadium and dealing with the impact of the pandemic, that I feel we lost sight of some key priorities and what’s truly in our DNA.”

However, for all of the sentiment within the statement, both Levy and Hitchen have presided over transfers that have simply not worked. They have spent nearly £300 million on N’Dombele, Moussa Sissoko, Aurier, Steven Bergwijn, Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Ryan Sessegnon and Lucas Moura.

Sessegnon has yet to become a first-team regular, but other than Moura, who was responsible for a sensational hat-trick in the 2019 Champions League semi-final win over Ajax, it is hard to argue that any of the others have been a success at Tottenham. It is why Levy has brought in Paratici, who has numerous connections in world football to make sure the right players are now sourced and signed.

The question has to be asked – what have Levy and Hitchen been doing? Paratici has to change the flow of the tide with Spurs transfers, and there will be little time to get things right. Tottenham fans have been starved of success throughout the 20 years of ENIC, and as painful as a rebuild will be, it cannot take three or four years.

Levy has always divided the Tottenham fan base, but his failure to deliver trophies and his detachment from the fans has made it a relationship that has become increasingly strained. The pressure is on him more than ever to ensure recruitment is right, his choice of manager is right, and the club’s focus is right.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Short Term Future Could Go Either Way

In football, there will always be a focus on long-term futures, but rarely in the modern game do managers get enough time to even think that far ahead. Pochettino was telling his bosses in 2019 that if a long-term future built for success was to happen at Spurs, then that much mentioned ‘painful rebuild’ would be needed and a change in transfer focus required.

What followed was two transfer windows with no business done. As a result, there have now been two successive seasons with no Champions League football, which has vastly reduced all income.

Nuno Espírito Santo and Fabio Paratici are the two men who now have Tottenham’s immediate future in their hands, but what they don’t have right now is time. Spurs need to ship players out to be able to bring in the required talent, but currently, the club is looking at a short-term future, with many of the same players from previous regimes still at the club.

Add into the mix the ongoing saga with Harry Kane and whether he will stay or go, and Tottenham look to be in a very precarious situation right now.

Some clever business may yet be done, but realistically, Tottenham are looking at a squad that is long way away from Champions League qualification, and patience may be needed for some time yet. Patience, however, is not something managers at Tottenham get. If things look bleak, Levy will likely pull the trigger once more.

A painful rebuild is needed, but painful may well be putting it mildly.

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