This week, Tottenham Hotspur’s Fabricio Paratici gave a Q&A in which he discussed the club’s transfers over the summer window. With a myriad of arrivals and departures going down to the wire, there was a lot to analyse.
Paratici’s role remains somewhat undefined, with ‘Managing Director of Football’ being a newly created role at the club. What information there is suggests that he was brought for a degree of footballing knowledge and contacts that Daniel Levy could not match.
With a number of international quality footballers brought in, fans should judge his first period of activity as a qualified success. There may be a modicum of disappointment in not securing more star names, but the results are far removed from the initial pandemic-related thriftiness of Levy adjusted expectations. In every position on the field, Tottenham have made improvements with their transfers.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Summer Transfers
The first of Tottenham Hotspur’s transfers came in the form of Atalanta’s number one goalkeeper, Pierluigi Gollini, on loan. With a permanent move possible, and no young goalkeeping prospects in the offing, such an outcome seems likely to eventuate.
He was Atalanta’s first-choice goalkeeper during their domestic and European campaigns last season. The Italian impressed between the sticks and he already has a string of international appearances to his name. He is an upgrade on the now departed Joe Hart (to Celtic) and Paulo Gazzaniga (Fulham).
Hugo Lloris is not getting any younger, and Gollini may be being groomed into eventually inheriting the starting slot in time. Despite conceding against Paços de Ferreira, he generally looked assured positionally and on-the-ball in the European play-offs.
Defending Tottenham’s Transfer Business
Bringing in Emerson Royal and Christian Romero represents solid and necessary pieces of business. Whilst it will be hard to fully replace Toby Alderweireld, Romero appears well placed to assume a leading role at the back. He could very well prove to be the defensive centre-weight required.
Three consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the Eric Dier-Davinson Sanchez pairing have been impressive (and somewhat surprising). Displacing them thus becomes a matter of meritocratic determination. But as the season progresses and Tottenham compete on multiple fronts, Romero should have every opportunity to justify his £45 million fee.
The deadline day transfer of Emerson Royal to Tottenham is of greater uncertainty. Journalist Tim Vickery called him “a little bit shaky,” noting that he only played once for Brazil during the Copa America, and that was a dead-rubber fixture. He only has three Barcelona appearances to his name and blew hot and cold during his time at Real Betis. He most definitely has potential, having demonstrated glimpses of quality. But it is a gamble.
At least he has a spot in the squad, with Serge Aurier departing by mutual consent. Along with the transfers of Juan Foyth (to Villareal) and Danny Rose (Watford) away from Tottenham, Aurier’s contractual termination hopefully marks the beginning of greater defensive zest and qualitative cohesion at the back.
Middle-ish midfield transfers
In the old footballing cliché, the return of Oliver Skipp from his Norwich City loan spell ‘feels like a transfer’. Indeed, his performances so far represent a marked improvement from that of Harry Winks. It certainly softens the blow of losing squad player Moussa Sissoko to Watford for £3 million.
Another future replacement may come in the form of Pape Matar Sarr from Metz. In Paratici’s words, the defensive midfielder, who has been loaned back to Metz for the season, is “one of the most talented in Europe.” The Senegalese international is one to watch for the future.
In the immediate here and now, the Eric Lamela-Bryan Gil £21.6 million swap deal is an interesting piece of business. Lamela has been a fantastic servant for the club, running his socks off and his opponents into the ground. But whatever sentimental attachment there may be, he was not first-team quality for a side chasing elite status.
Gil is a first-class Spanish international (and also an Olympic medallist). He has demonstrated his athletic and football abilities multiple times, and will certainly press his case for a starting spot. But the current set-up sees the attackers roam about, trusting their teammates to fill spots and run into space. Gil will certainly have to adapt his game from an out-and-out wide man to fit the bill.
No Forward Business
Counterintuitively, the biggest transfer story for Tottenham this window culminated in the maintenance of the status quo antebellum for Harry Kane. Many fans had a sense of inevitability with his departure, so the fact that the England captain stays is a definite bonus. He is professional enough not to disrupt team cohesion or squad morale, and will provide firepower and a central lynchpin to the attack.
There may be a sense of disappointment that a back-up striker was not brought in. Arguably, Son Heung-min can play up through the middle, as he demonstrated against Manchester City and in past seasons. But should Kane succumb to an injury (as so often seems to happen), then Spurs may be lacking up front.
Troy Parrott has gone out on loan to MK Dons, but youth prospect Dane Scarlett remains. He may be given some game time in the Europa Conference League, but there are question marks over his readiness to assume a first-team position. Even the temporary services of someone like Lautaro Martínez may have smoothed such a transition.