July 28, 2017
One of the comments being directed at signing-less Spurs this transfer window is that we are ‘being left behind’.
In this unusual transfer window, where prices have rocketed similarly to how they suddenly leapt up around 2006/2007, Spurs are the last Premier League club to make a signing. There are two key points to make on this, surrounding:
1. The pool of players.
2. Value for money.
The Pool of Players
The pool of suitable players available to Spurs is smaller than that available to other clubs due to a number of factors. The first factor is that we have one of the best teams (if not the best team) in the Premier League, and so improving on that is naturally more difficult for us than, say, for Everton, who last season had a demonstrably worse team.
Secondly, due to our wage structure — which has been necessary for a number of reasons, including limited match-day revenue — we are unable to offer the wages that some of our rivals offer. We can counter this to some extent with large ‘signing-on’ fees, and also apparently offer an attractive bonus structure, rewarding players for successes. We also regularly refresh contracts, meaning that players have a constant sense of financial progression; a smart move. But there is little doubt that our wage packages are less attractive than those at other clubs.
So with a smaller pool of players that would improve us available, and being unable to attract many of those players due to our wage structure falling below that of their current clubs/rival clubs, we are left trying to find value elsewhere.
Value For Money
Daniel Levy has described transfer prices as ‘unsustainable’ and, in some cases, he is right. There are clubs who simply cannot continue spending these sums as their revenue won’t sustain the level of spending. But Daniel Storey makes the point well in his article for Football 365 that Manchester City, for example, ‘have unprecedented resources; why wouldn’t the transfer fees be unprecedented too?’. For some clubs this will simply be the new norm.
Levy will undoubtedly have been frustrated by the £30m which was (in)effectively thrown away on Moussa Sissoko, and asking him to part with the same or a bigger fee will now be a more difficult task; he will need assurances that we are getting better value for the prices stated. One would have to imagine that Sissoko in this window would likely cost another £5m minimum.
My gut feel is that we ought to resort to the transfer strategy of a few years ago, focusing primarily on strategically identifying young prospects who have not quite ‘broken out’, signing them early and loaning them back to their clubs to foster their potential. Ryan Sessegnon would have been (and would still be) an ideal signing at this level, but there are other budding young talents in the football league too: Ronaldo Vieira at Leeds, Ben Brereton and Joe Worrall at Nottingham Forest, Ezri Konsa at Charlton to name a few.
In my opinion we do need to sign a right-back to replace Kyle Walker (because I don’t think Kieran Trippier is stylistically the right fit), and we could also do with a Christian Eriksen rotation, but otherwise we are pretty well set and don’t need to worry too much about keeping up with the Joneses.
There are no issues with our 25-man squad list either. Despite the fact that we have lost a number of ‘homegrown’ players in the last twelve months — Walker, of course, but also Tom Carroll, Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb — we only actually have 18 players to list, four of whom qualify as homegrown (Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier). We could feasibly sign another three non-homegrown players and still be able to name them all in the squad list.
Far from being left behind, last season we were the team leaving others behind, and there is no reason why our squad cannot continue its upward trajectory, boosted by another year of experience, a few more Academy players looking ready to step up, and the return from injury of Erik Lamela and (hopefully) Danny Rose.
July 22, 2017
A number of Academy players have travelled to the United States with the first team on the pre-season tour, and I thought I would write a brief round-up on each.
The selection includes second year Academy scholars Jon Dinzeyi and Tashan Oakley-Boothe, recent Academy graduates Brandon Austin, Alfie Whiteman and Jaden Brown, plus established Development Squad members Will Miller and Anthony Georgiou.
Mauricio Pochettino told the official site: “They’ve all impressed me in the first few weeks (of pre-season) and with John McDermott (Head of Player Development) we decided to give them the possibility to join us on the tour. It’s a big opportunity for them, a great opportunity to show their quality and why not, maybe we are seeing a player for the future of the first team?”
Below is a little about each of the involved players.
Age: 18 Position: Goalkeeper
Austin may have come onto your radar when he was lucky enough to train with the England squad at Hotspur Way last season. If not, then his performance against Chelsea in the Youth Cup Semi-Final at White Hart Lane may have caught your eye; he made a number of terrific saves and really helped to keep the score down. Austin has dual English/American nationality so he may even have joined a different queue at passport control!
Age: 18 Position: Left-back
Brown lost his place in the Under-18s to Nick Tsaroulla last year, which led to him being promoted to play Under-23s, perhaps ahead of time. He actually made the jump pretty well, and ended up performing better at that level, even scoring a couple of times. He has represented England at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 levels, despite his club form being somewhat patchy, and is known as an athletic full-back who gets up and down well. My gut feel is that he’s here due to the injury to Rose more than anything, but it would be great to see him take his chance.
Age: 17 Position: Centre-back
Dinzeyi is a versatile player, having come through as a winger before settling on centre-back. He’s tall — he must stand at around 6’4 — and quick across the ground. Last season he was a little error-prone, and his centre-back partner, Japhet Tanganga, was the one who often stood out, but Dinzeyi has the raw materials to be an interesting player, and I’m fascinated to see how he looks at this level.
Age: 20 Position: Winger
Georgiou, a Cypriot youth player, had a rough time with injuries last year, missing the majority of the season for the Under-23s. He came through the Under-18s as a traditional, touchline-hugging left winger but has ended up playing at left-back for the Under-23s on occasion, also switching to the right to play as an inverted winger. I was surprised to see his name on the squad list — particularly with Marcus Edwards and Sam Shashoua not included — but wonder whether this is, perhaps, a ‘shop window’ job, as Georgiou could do with a loan move to test his mettle.
Age: 21 Position: Attacking midfield
Miller will be a familiar face, after appearing for the first team both in pre-season of last year and also the post-season tour. He had a loan spell at Burton last year, which I summarised here, and impressed Nigel Clough with his attitude:
“It’s incredible, his attitude. Every training session, he is sharp, he is bright. We’ve managed to get him on the bench a few times, not get him on the pitch too often.
“It’s just a lovely, refreshing attitude these days. Tottenham actually wanted him back, they said they wanted him to go out to League One and play, they said that’d benefit him more. But he said, ‘I’m happy here, I like being around the first team and I want to try to help them stay up’.”
He’s primarily a number 10, but can cover right and left wing, and has played deeper too.
Age: 17 Position: Central midfield
Oakley-Boothe is an interesting player — he made a name for himself with some sparkling Under-16 performances, but then didn’t quite replicate his form at Under-18 level. It’s clear that there’s a lot of potential there and, as a result, he’s been involved with England at Under-16 and Under-17 age groups, and has trained with our first team often. He has played in all central midfield roles — 4, 8 and 10 — and I think this year might be a year of working out which suits him best. He’s a very good ball-carrier, and I suspect he might end up specialising as an 8, a bit like Josh Onomah.
Age: 18 Position: Goalkeeper
Whiteman was born and lives in Tottenham and has a tremendous reputation internationally. He has represented England at Under-16, Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 levels, and started at the Under-17 World Cup in 2015. He has been in several first-team travelling parties and even made the bench against Gillingham in the EFL Cup last season.
And finally, a word on those who have not travelled:
Marcus Edwards – having been part of the England Under-19 side that won the European Under-19 Championship, some have speculated that Edwards has been given time off to rest. My understanding (and I give no guarantees that it is correct) is that his exclusion is due to the fact that he has yet to extend his contract, which runs out at the end of the season. Spurs have a history of doing this with young players, and Milos Veljkovic — now a regular starting centre-back in the Bundesliga — suffered the same fate. However, Edwards was not involved in the match against Cambridge United on Friday night, which may back up the view that he is resting.
Kazaiah Sterling – Sterling did play a part against Cambridge, coming on as a second half substitute and apparently putting in a lively display. I was surprised that he did not travel, particularly in the absence of Son (and, therefore, a third striker) and given the fact that he travelled to Hong Kong post-season, and wonder whether this may mean that a loan move is pending.
Sam Shashoua – Georgiou’s selection ahead of Shashoua was interesting given that Shashoua was on the first team bench for the Leicester City game.
Luke Amos – Amos also travelled to Hong Kong at the end of last year, but the rumour is that he will be back out on loan for the coming year.
Japhet Tanganga – Tanganga is our best young centre-back in my opinion, and I was surprised that he did not travel and that his partner, Dinzeyi, did. Of course, we don’t see what happens on the training ground, so it could just be that Dinzeyi puts in more consistent showings there, but Tanganga has a lot of potential.
TJ Eyoma – along with Tanganga, Eyoma is one of the stars of the Under-18 side, and certainly performed at a level above Dinzeyi and also probably Oakley-Boothe last year. His ability to play at both right-back and centre-back might have made him an interesting proposition, but at least he got game-time against Cambridge.