Tottenham Hotspur’s unlikely run to the Champions League final last season already appears to be bearing fruit.
Reaching the final of Europe’s elite competition has the potential to make Spurs a more attractive proposition to transfer targets, and the arrival of Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon is proof of that. The Londoners have also brought in Jack Clarke from Leeds United, but the teenager has rejoined his boyhood club on loan for the 2019/20 campaign.
Despite the massive costs of the new stadium and the fact Tottenham have had cold feet in the transfer market over the last 18 months, it appears the club is willing to back Mauricio Pochettino in the current window.
Imagining what Spurs’ line-up will look like next season, then, is an intriguing prospect. Who will leave in the coming weeks? And will the Londoners spend big or replace from within?
With all of that in mind, we’ve come up with three possible XIs we could be seeing in north London next season.
1. The dream
Tottenham’s dream scenario is quite simple: keep their stars who are being linked with moves away – namely Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen – and sort out the problem positions in the squad. The issues in central midfield have already been resolved with the acquisition of Ndombele, so it’s now time for the club to focus on strengthening at full-back.
Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose have been tipped to leave the club his summer. But even if the duo sticks around, they both appear to have passed their peak and Spurs should pursue alternatives.
Norwich City starlet Max Aarons would be an ideal addition on the right. The 19-year-old, who provided six assists in the Championship last season, could be Tottenham’s right-back for the next 10 years if developed properly. And what better manager to work under than Pochettino? The Argentinian has a proven track record with nurturing young English talent.
On the left, reports claim Spurs will target Everton’s Lucas Digne if Rose departs. The Toffees are likely to command a huge fee for a player who impressed during his debut season in England last term, but Tottenham may be able to raise part of the required funds by selling Rose. Digne scored four goals and registers four assists in the Premier League in 2018/19.
The rest of Spurs’ energy should be spent on retaining contract rebels Alderweireld and Eriksen. Keeping hold of Alderweireld looks like a particularly difficult task, but could Tottenham’s 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.
Eriksen staying would allow Spurs to play a fluid 4-2-3-1 with the Dane dropping deep when necessary to help Ndombele and Harry Winks in midfield.
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
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 previous two transfer windows – but the rising costs of the new stadium shouldn’t be disregarded as an excuse.
The record-fee Tottenham have spent on Ndombele suggests a chance of tack, though it’s likely the club will now have to sell players if they want to make other marquee signings.
As much as Spurs supporters don’t want to admit it, Alderweireld and Eriksen could very well be on their way out. Both players have just one year remaining on their contracts. Alderweireld’s £25m 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 in 2017/18 when the Belgian’s contract dispute first began. Sanchez’s workload could increase even more next term, and Tottenham will be happy they are able to replace a departing centre-back from within.
That won’t be the case with Eriksen as the Dane’s exit will require a rather expensive solution. Spurs have reportedly put negotiations with Real Betis over the signing of Giovani Lo Celso on hold. The Argentinian has an £88m release clause and Betis will probably want close to that for their talisman. In reality, the only way Tottenham will be able to afford him is by selling Eriksen.
Meanwhile, the £25m Spurs are set to receive for Alderweireld could go on Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon, who is said to have his heart set on a move to north London.
3. Replace Eriksen’s creativity
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, Spurs should be focusing on Eriksen’s successor.
The Dane scored 10 goals and provided 17 assists across all competitions last season despite struggling to replicate his best form at times, which was possibly a consequence of the speculation about his future. If he leaves, Tottenham evidently need an attacking midfielder who can score, create and bring a sense of style to the team.
If Lo Celso, an inclusion in our ‘realistic’ XI, can not be acquired for less than his £88m release clause, perhaps Spurs should consider spending that money on two players for the same price, which will be raised through the sale of Eriksen. Indeed, Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos and Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech – both of whom have been linked with Tottenham – might be available for a combined price of around £88m.
Ziyech was one of Ajax’s standout players in the Dutch champions’ remarkable 2018/19 campaign. He scored 21 goals – including one against Spurs – and provided 24 assists in all competitions. Ceballos struggled for game time at Madrid but his stunning displays at the Under-21 European Championships for Spain have sparked interest in his services.
Such has been Eriksen’s importance to Tottenham, the Londoners would be well advised to sign a central midfielder (Ceballos) and a player who can operate further forward (Ziyech) to make up for his absence, which will initially be glaring.
The issue that stems from going down this route is a lack of funds for other positions. Spurs may have to stick with Trippier and Rose at full-back if they sign Ceballos and Ziyech, but a highly creative 4-2-3-1 is still possible.