Tottenham Hotspur are about to embark on a new era having announced Ange Postecoglou as their manager for the 2023/24 season.
The North London club have been through it all trying to find a permanent replacement for Antonio Conte, but they have finally managed to get someone in, making Postecoglou the first Australian to coach in the Premier League.
Postecoglou spent two years at Celtic, achieving back-to-back Scottish Premiership titles while also securing the club their world-record eighth domestic treble, adding the Scottish League Cup and Scottish FA Cup. But the job at Tottenham is much harder, aiming to lift them back into the top four when teams around them have strengthened, while also sorting out the mess of their own squad. This could also be the summer Tottenham finally lose Harry Kane, making this a lot worse.
So, what’s on Postecoglou’s to-do list this summer? Who could Tottenham sign, and how might the Australian line them up? We’ve taken a look at the strong rumours, bookmakers’ favourites with a couple of our own suggestions below…
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Huge criticism was levelled at Tottenham’s defence last season, with their leaky backline shipping 63 goals, more than any other team from first to 14th in the Premier League, and six more than Everton, who only just staved off the threat of relegation on the final day.
The tension reached a boiling point in the club’s mid-April defeat to Bournemouth, with Davinson Sanchez booed off the field in very unsettling scenes. It seems that whoever comes in, defensive reinforcements will be sought after to mend their porous backline, and Edmond Tapsoba is thought to be a leading candidate.
The Bayer Leverkusen defender was formidable as the club reached the Europa League semi-finals and achieved a sixth-placed finish in the Bundesliga across 2022/23, impressing with his build-up play from the back and defensive resilience.
The Burkina Faso international was the only centre-back in the Europa League this season to complete take-ons in the double digits (10), while he also ranked first for completed final third passes (90). He is a modern, progressive centre-back in every sense.
An interesting option Spurs could explore could be Manor Solomon, who has enjoyed a influential season on loan at Fulham despite a long-term injury. A recent FIFA ruling has stipulated that he will be allowed to leave Shakhtar Donetsk on a free transfer this summer — and Tottenham could make a move.
Lucas Moura will be leaving this summer and the club won’t trigger a clause in Arnaut Danjuma’s contract to make him a permanent signing, so they will need reinforcements on the flanks. And according to The Athletic, the club are genuinely considering Solomon on a free transfer.
A fleet-footed and potent inside forward, the Israel international impressed at Craven Cottage with his instinctive finishing and snake-hipped movement. Only Arsenal’s ‘super sub’ Reiss Nelson (1.34) bettered him for goals per 90 minutes among wingers in the Premier League this season (0.64).
There are growing suggestions 36-year-old Hugo Lloris will leave Tottenham this summer after 11 years of service, and that would mean bringing in a new No. 1. Such has been Lloris’ influence both on the pitch and in the dressing room that his departure creates a chasmic void that won’t be easy to remedy.
David Raya is thought to be high up on Levy’s shopping list — and you can see why. The two-capped Spain international prevented 5.9 goals in the 2022/23 Premier League season (the fourth-most — Lloris prevented -3.6 by comparison) and done so by making the most saves of any ‘keeper in the division (154).
The creative midfielder will almost certainly leave Leicester this summer after the club confirmed their relegation at the weekend. There are suggestions Spurs and Newcastle will engage in a tug-of-war for his signature, and if either club manage to convince him to join them, they will be getting a supreme talent.
Delicate on the ball, perceptive with his movement and a passing visionary, Maddison is a playmaker of an elite standing and would seriously enhance the midfield of any top club. The prospect of him linking up with Harry Kane (if he stays) is certainly a tantalising one on paper.
In one of the more bizarre recent stories, Spanish radio station Cadena Ser have suggested that Real Madrid have received an offer to sign Kane from an intermediary in a deal that could see a player-plus-cash situation unfold, with outcast Eden Hazard going the other way.
The Belgian has seriously struggled for game time at the Bernabeu since his mega switch from Chelsea in 2019 and could be offered an escape hatch to rejuvenate his career. In 2012, the now 32-year-old revealed Spurs tried to sign him before his move to Stamford Bridge — and now Levy could finally land his man.
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Given the so-called ‘Premier League tax’, cross-pollination is often unachievable for some clubs looking to keep the purse strings tight — and that could rule out a move for Raya if priced out by Brentford. Levy may therefore be forced to pursue other goalkeeper alternatives, and Giorgi Mamardashvili is a pretty good one.
Despite a chaotic season for Valencia, 22-year-old Mamardashvili was often a beacon of consistency and resilience between the sticks. The towering Georgian prevented 1.3 goals in La Liga this season and produced 103 saves, the sixth-most of any ‘keeper. Young and used to carnage, he could be a perfect Spurs fit.
Spurs have previously looked in Wales for defensive stardust, having picked up Joe Rodon from Swansea in 2020, and according to reports, they are monitoring another up-and-coming centre-back from the Liberty Stadium in Nathan Wood. The England U21 international has impressed for the Swans this term and is attracting a lot of interest from clubs higher up in the food chain.
He represents another risk in the Rodon category, in terms of instant first-team impact, but under the right coach and environment, he could develop into a serious defensive force. Similar to Tapsoba, Wood impressed this season with his dribbling qualities, completing 18 take-ons, the fourth-most of any centre-back in the Championship across 2022/23.
If Kane does indeed leave Spurs this summer, then they will need a new force up front to galvanise their frontline and lead them into a new era. Rasmus Hojlund has emerged as one of the most promising forwards in Europe, and has even drawn comparisons to a certain Erling Haaland by his Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini, who is certainly no poor judge of talent.
“He has very similar characteristics to (Erling) Haaland, not just his face,” Gasperini recently commented. “He is so quick, he’s under 11 seconds over 100m and that’s not even trying very hard. Considering his height, he has a low centre of gravity and can move his legs very fast.”
An explosive and cut-throat marksman, the 20-year-old Dane registered a non-penalty expected goals rate of 8.25 this season, the third-best return of any U21 striker in Europe’s top five leagues. If Kane departs, then Spurs could do a lot worse than the so-called Halaand 2.0.
But what if Postecoglou wants to raid his former club? Perhaps one of the unsung heroes of Celtic’s team, especially with all the attention on his countryman, Reo Hatate was directly involved in 15 goals in the Scottish Premiership last season, scoring six and recording nine assists. But, of course, football isn’t just about goals especially for the midfield.
Also reportedly a target for Brighton, Hatate scared some fans when he was absent from title celebrations outside Celtic Park, but quickly quashed rumours and set his focus on wrapping up the treble by beating Inverness in the Scottish FA Cup, which they did.
“When he came in 12 months ago, he had an impact straight away,” Postecoglou said of Hatate earlier this year.
“We knew it would be a tough initiation for him because he’d come off the back of a full Japanese league season, whereas this year he had a pre-season with us.
“Over the last month he’s just gone to another level and I certainly believe there are another couple of levels in him as a footballer. He’s enjoying it and he’s making more of an impact, which is great for us.”
If Tottenham need to replace Kane, then another Celtic raid could see Kyogo Furuhashi following Postecoglou to north London. Kyogo is the man everyone was talking about at Celtic last season and understandably so, scoring 27 goals in 36 games to wrap up the Scottish Premiership Player of the Season alongside his domestic treble.
Like Hatate, Kyogo was signed to Celtic by Postecoglou and according to The Sun, the Australian manager will be hoping to lure the 28-year-old to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. And it’s a move also backed by former Rangers midfielder Brian Laudrup, who believes Kyogo is the perfect fit for Tottenham.
“His admiration for Kyogo Furuhashi — as both a player and a person — is clearly immense. Postecoglou has said that, when he was working in Japan, he already knew that he wanted to make the striker his first signing if he ever got a job in Europe. No matter which club or country it was, Furuhashi was coming with him,” Laudrup said in his Daily Mail column.
“That level of faith is unusual. And it feels particularly relevant when you consider the wider situation at Tottenham.
“We don’t know what is going to happen with Harry Kane this summer, although Spurs insist he’s not for sale. He’s been linked with Real Madrid after Karim Benzema’s decision to leave for Saudi Arabia. Manchester United, too, have a long-standing interest.
“Spurs are going to need a new forward. If not to replace Kane immediately, then at least to give another credible option in that department. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Furuhashi ended up joining Postecoglou in London at some point. And I could see him being a success, too.
“With his movement, his intelligence, his finishing and his work-rate, I think he could handle the step up in quality. He would be a handful even for the more switched-on defenders of the Premier League and, crucially, would understand what his manager wanted from him.”
Three ways Tottenham could line up next season
The Big Ange
At Celtic last season, Postecoglou favoured a 4-3-3 with one holding midfielder, often Callum McGregor, allowing his two No.8s to push further up the pitch. It will be interesting to see if he keeps that formation going at Tottenham in 2023/24, given the North London club haven’t played in a 4-3-3 too often over the past few years – and when they did last season, against Newcastle, they were smacked 6-1 at St James’ Park. In that game, Oliver Skipp was the holding man but it may be a better option for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, with Rodrigo Bentancur and Reo Hatate flanking him. For this XI, we’re assuming it’s just the one raid of Celtic and Tottenham manage to keep hold of Kane, so he would be joined in attack by Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski.
At the back, it’s hard to see anyone other than Destiny Udogie and Pedro Porro as the full-backs, who can get involved in the midfield quite a lot as Postecoglou liked to do with Alistair Johnston and Greg Taylor at Celtic.
No Kane, No Problem
When it came to the Champions League, Postecoglou reverted to his first formation at Celtic which was the 4-2-3-1, allowing a more conservative approach without completely ruining the attack. it’s a formation he has used at various points of his career too, and it could be a way to accommodate for the potential loss of Kane, especially if Kyogo signs. The Japanese star has been the spearhead of Postecoglou’s attack at Celtic and would lead the line for Tottenham too, flanked by Son, Kulusevski and Richarlison – the latter most likely start just behind Kyogo but playing practically alongside him as Matt O’Riley did, essentially making it a 4-2-4.
Here, Hojbjerg and Bentancur would be the long-term pivot but Skipp would likely start over the latter at the beginning of the season until he achieves full fitness.
This is a formation that, on paper, would cause nightmares for Tottenham fans as it immediate draws the mind to the sufferball of Antonio Conte. However, when the game dictates, Postecoglou could throw back to the 3-4-2-1 he used towards the latter stage of his time as Australia manager. In this formation you’d really get the most out of Pedro Porro and Udogie as the wing-backs, overlapping the inside forwards to overload the attack. As always, the pivot here is important, so Bentancur and Hojbjerg provide security, with Clement Lenglet joining the back three if he does indeed make his loan move permanent.
The inside forwards and striker will work as they have done for ages at Tottenham, fluidly rotating and it could be an interest attack if Kyogo is still signed to play alongside a remaining Kane.