Tottenham Hotspur’s unlikely run to the Champions League semi-finals could change things for the club.
Reaching the last four of Europe’s elite competition has the potential to make Spurs a more attractive proposition to potential signings. That said, Tottenham haven’t made an acquisition for well over a year, and the huge expense of the new stadium has raised doubts about new arrivals this summer.
Imagining what Spurs’ line-up will look like next season, then, is an intriguing prospect. Who will leave in the coming transfer window? Will the Londoners spend big or replace from within?
With all of that in mind, we’ve come up with four possible XIs we could be seeing in north London next season.
1. The dream
Signings are what Tottenham fans are craving and the board simply must deliver this summer. The size of the budget Mauricio Pochettino will be given remains unclear, but with the right blend of caution and ambition Spurs could bring in an exciting haul of new additions to resolve the two main problem areas in the squad: full-back and central midfield.
Following Fulham’s relegation to the Championship, Ryan Sessegnon – reportedly a long-term Tottenham target – could be available for less than he was this time last year. The teenager would be an ideal long-term replacement for Danny Rose. On the other flank, it would be a statement of intent if Spurs could steal a march on Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s other suitors by securing a deal for the promising Crystal Palace right-back.
In central midfield, Tottenham should be looking at two players currently on loan in the Premier League: Barcelona’s Andre Gomes and Monaco’s Youri Tielemans. Everton and Leicester City will be desperate to tie the duo down to permanent contracts, but Spurs should be able to lure both players if they qualify for the Champions League (and if bigger spenders don’t swoop first).
All of which isn’t to say the likes of Rose, Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks should be let go. Instead, Pochettino can finally call upon such players depending on the situation. Indeed, Tottenham’s dream scenario is to go into next season with a cohesive, varied squad of options.
Retaining contract rebels Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen also plays into that line of thinking. Keeping hold of Alderweireld looks like a particularly difficult task, but could Spurs’ progression in Europe tempt the duo to extend their contracts? In truth, it may depend on the club’s willingness to pay them what they are asking for.
2. Let’s be realistic
Coming up with a realistic scenario feels apt for Tottenham, a club hindered by financial constraints and accused of lacking ambition in recent years. Those accusations are fair to an extent – Spurs probably could have spent more than nothing in the last two transfer windows – but the rising costs of the new stadium shouldn’t be disregarded as an excuse.
In any case, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Tottenham opt against spending once again this summer. A new central midfielder is a must, so Andre Gomes’ arrival remains a realistic concept. But elsewhere on the pitch, Spurs have the capacity to replace those on their way out from within.
As much as Tottenham supporters don’t want to admit it, Alderweireld and Eriksen could very well be on their way out. Both players have just over a year remaining on their contracts. Alderweireld’s £25 million release clause will surely be met, while Eriksen may be unable to resist the pull of Real Madrid.
Davinson Sanchez has essentially been Alderweireld’s understudy since arriving from Ajax. In fact, he was regularly picked ahead of Alderweireld last season when the Belgian’s contract dispute first begun. Sanchez’s workload could increase even more next term. Meanwhile, Eriksen has been playing in a slightly deeper role this season, so Gomes will function as his replacement.
Elsewhere, Pochettino has put a lot of trust in the likes of Rose and Kieran Trippier despite their inconsistent performances over the last couple of years. As a result, the full-backs are likely to stick around if suitable successors are not available.
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3. A Liverpool-esque transformation
Sanchez has the potential to become one of the Premier League’s leading centre-backs, but equally, there is a possibility the Colombian has already hit his best level. If that’s the case, Tottenham must look into signing an elite centre-back closer to the level of the departing Alderweireld.
But that’s not as simple as it sounds, particularly for Spurs. The premium centre-backs mooted to make moves this summer are Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly; De Ligt is said to be bound for Barcelona while Koulibaly’s alleged £130m price tag is impossible for Spurs to meet. Consequently, they are going to find it extremely difficult to find a player of Alderweireld’s quality.
Looking closer to home might be the solution. Tottenham apparently want to increase their home-grown quota, so England international Harry Maguire could be on their shortlist. The 26-year-old was excellent for the Three Lions at last summer’s World Cup and was subsequently linked with Manchester United.
A deal failed to materialise and Maguire has endured an inconsistent campaign with Leicester, but the former Sheffield United and Hull City defender clearly possesses everything that is required to prosper under Pochettino. He’s English, he’s driven, he’s able to bring the ball out from the back comfortably and he can play on either side of a back three.
Maguire won’t be cheap, and there is also the small matter convincing him that Spurs is the right next step for his career. But like Liverpool last season, Tottenham’s run to semi-finals of the Champions League makes their offer more enticing. Maguire may not meet the level Spurs truly desire, but the Londoners may now be able to attract players they were previously unable to.
4. Focus on Eriksen’s successor
Tottenham will likely be forced to pick between spending big on a replacement for Alderweireld or Eriksen, rather than both. As alluded to above, Sanchez is a readymade successor to Alderweireld; youngster Juan Foyth has also been tipped as a future regular in the team. With that in mind, perhaps Spurs should be focusing on Eriksen’s successor.
The Dane has scored eight goals and provided 17 assists across all competitions this season despite struggling to replicate his best form at times, which is possibly a consequence of his ongoing contract discussions. If he leaves, Tottenham evidently need an attacking midfielder who can score, create and bring a sense of style to the team.
Step forward Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech. Spurs are set to face the Moroccan in the Champions League semi-finals, and he will be eager to add to his 15 goals and 15 assists for the season. The 26-year-old has been one of Ajax’s standout players in Europe and could attract plenty of attention come the summer.
The Amsterdam club changed its transfer philosophy when they raked in a record fee for Davinson Sanchez in the summer of 2017. Since then, they no longer accept relatively low offers for high-quality players; Spurs have benefited from that in the past with the signings of Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen.
But Tottenham will have the opportunity to spend big with the fees they receive for Alderweireld and Eriksen should the duo depart. It will be interesting to see whether Ziyech is among their targets if that’s the case.