When it comes to transfers, Spurs typically aren’t shy about flexing their financial muscle. In fact, we usually chase just about any player with a pulse. We’ve even been linked to the same player consistently for years in some cases without ever actually signing them (Leandro Damiao, never forget).
So naturally, I’m quite surprised that it’s already the first week of July and we’ve hardly been linked with anyone either coming in or going out. The most I’ve heard is rumblings about Portuguese midfielder Adrien Silva, but nothing concrete just yet. What could be behind our relative lack of transfer activity? To me, the change in transfer policy that Mauricio Pochettino has brought to the club seems a likely culprit.
If there’s one thing Spurs were consistent about in the early 2010’s, it was their high level of activity in the transfer market. The departures of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale in particular led to a host of replacements. Some of these players panned out, such as Eriksen and when fit, Lamela. Others had a tougher time, and saw their tenure at the club begin and end within just a few seasons. Poor Bobby Soldado.
In the last few seasons under Poch, though, the rapid-fire buys and sales have slowed to a more measured and deliberate pace. For evidence of this, let’s trace the club’s transfer activity from Poch’s first season in charge, 2014/2015, to his most recent campaign in 2016/2017.
Pochettino took over at Spurs in May of 2014, which meant his first transfer period at the club was that summer’s window. 6 players were brought in between July and August of 2014, including Eric Dier, Ben Davies, and Michel Vorm. 3 more players were added by the end of June 2015 (Dele Alli, Kevin Wimmer, and Kieran Trippier). Out of these 9 total additions, more than half are still with the club.
The following year’s transfer dealings came with significantly fewer inbound players. From June 2015 to June 2016, just 4 new players came in. Most arrived in the 2015 summer window; Toby Alderweireld in July and Clinton N’jie/Heung-Min Son in August. Victor Wanyama was the last new arrival in late June of 2016. Most of these purchases were clearly made with long-term goals in mind, as 3 out of 4 of them are not only still with the club, but also usual starters on match day.
Fast-forward to Poch’s most recent season in charge, and you see the incoming players reduced even further. Only 3 players came in during the 2016/2017 window and they all arrived in the summer of 2016. Though none of the newcomers (Janssen, N’koudou, and Sissoko) is typically a starter, they are all currently still with the club. The only one I see even potentially leaving is Sissoko. So again, Poch is sticking to his habit of going after talent he means to retain for the future.
While he’s clearly been working to reduce the inbound and outbound transfers at the club year after year, Poch is simultaneously promoting from within the club’s youth academy to address any gaps he sees. Case in point, Harry Winks and Cameron Carter-Vickers both saw decent minutes last season. With another year of experience to their names, could their role expand further this season? Given the success of his similar approach to integrating young players like Alli, Dier, and Kane into the first team, it’s easy to see Poch again choosing to trust in youth rather than dip into the market to solve every problem.
In short, the manner in which Poch operates in relation to personnel almost removes the need for heavy transfer activity. The club has bought shrewdly enough over the last couple of years that issues with the team rarely arise. When they do, Poch is quite comfortable addressing them with his youth options. This approach has landed the club within arm’s length of the Premier League title for the last two seasons. So why change a winning formula? As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
I expect very few moves over the remaining two months of this summer window. Poch has cover in every position, and the only real improvement he could make is bringing in a marquee-level player. That player would have to already be at or above the quality of our current starting XI, though. So there isn’t a pressing need to fill any specific spot aside from replacing Sissoko if he goes.
The transfer market is unpredictable, so Spurs could announce a major signing tomorrow and prove me wrong. But for now, I’m digging Poch’s increasingly hands-off approach to summer reinforcements. This team is already going places; best not to upset the carefully-nurtured chemistry that’s taking it to new heights.