Of the many tidbits of information that came out of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust (THST) minutes from their recent meeting with the Spurs board, one of the most interesting is perhaps one that has been slightly overlooked. Buried among the details about the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium was a comment form Daniel Levy about Spurs' player transfer philosophy:
• Regarding transfer policy, THST stressed that retaining talent was as important (if not more so) as bringing in new talent
• THFC's transfer comfort zone was with younger players around the £10-15m price range and they would look to return to that policy
• Was felt that moving away from this strategy in Summer 2013 hadn't worked well for THFC, however, DL was keen to stress the Club had backed the Coach and Technical Director with those purchases
These points are, if they are to be believed, very significant indicators as to the short to medium term direction for Tottenham Hotspur. Remember that until the sale of Gareth Bale, the club's record signing was Luka Modric for £16.5m, and before that, David Bentley at £15m. Spurs made a statement of intent with the funds from Bale's sale, purchasing the likes of Paulinho, Roberto Soldado, and Erik Lamela for large transfer fees, but these were significant outliers compared to Spurs' overall transfer history in the past ten years.
The reasons for this sudden return to austerity is almost certainly related to the construction of the stadium. Now that construction is going forward with guns blazing, any potential war chest that Spurs may have had for player transfers is probably going to be better put to use to help the stadium be constructed with a minimum amount of debt.
Now let's be fair – to use the £16.5m Spurs spent for Modric as an example is probably a bit misleading; £16m was a lot more money back in 2008 than it is today. In today's hyper-inflated climate, saying that your "comfort zone" is between £10-15m restricts the kinds of players you are going after, but in today's dollars it's probably not so different from the "comfort zone" of £4-7m that Spurs had back in the late Aughties. But, for those who were desperately hoping for big, splashy signings this summer, you're likely to be disappointed.
However, we've already started to see a club emphasis on developing and promoting academy players, and with the appointment of Paul Mitchell we will almost certainly see Spurs try and emulate the cheaper, perhaps overlooked "moneyball" kind of signings that clubs like Southampton made to such great effect. Remember, Christian Eriksen only cost Spurs £11m, and Hugo Lloris was purchased for a mere £8.7 (not including add-ons). A few more players like them, combined with a little dead wood clearing, and Spurs are in pretty good shape.
Also, that's not to say that if Mauricio Pochettino and Mitchell identify a player they want that they may not splash a little cash here and there. Memphis Depay, Ki Sung-Yueng, or Moussa Sissoko may not fall within Spurs' "comfort zone" but it wouldn't surprise me if Spurs open up the piggy bank a little more if they decide they're going after that one player to make next season's team special.
In some ways, this is refreshing honesty coming from the club and Daniel Levy. Spurs were burned by big-budget signings in 2013, and until they are in a position where they're playing in a new stadium and are playing regular Champions League football, it doesn't make much sense to continue to target players that are probably out of their financial reach. If Spurs can be more austere with their transfer signings, can still land the next Graziano Pelle or Sadio Mané on occasion, and all while developing starters and squad players from the academy, I'm okay with that. Short term it may make things a little difficult, but it sets the club up for long-term success.