It's over!! The transfer window has closed and Tottenham Hotspur have finished their business until January. Spurs didn't land their top target Saido Berahino, but they were very active in this window, bringing in five new players and offloading nine players (with the departure of Aaron Lennon).
But let's stop for a moment and take a look at the big picture. How did Spurs do overall in the window? What needs were addressed? Were the missing pieces filled? Does the good outweigh the bad, or vice versa? If the writers of Cartilage Free Captain are anything to go by, there's a wide range of opinions.
I'm of two minds about this window. On the one hand, the surprise signing of Son Heung-Min should forgive Daniel Levy and the administrative staff of Tottenham Hotspur a lot of ills, as he's a phenomenal player who instantly improves the team. Likewise, I'm also pleased with the additions of players like Toby Alderweireld, Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier, and Clinton N'Jie, who I think were progressive signings with an eye to the future. These are the kinds of players Tottenham needs to be signing right now in order to improve until the stadium is finished and we can compete financially with the big boys in the EPL. Saido Berahino would've been a great addition too, but when one power player decides he's not going to play ball, there isn't much you can do. The departures were equally inspired -- £9m for Paulinho for goodness sake -- and a lot of the cruft and dead wood have been swept away.
The lack of a central midfielder is super frustrating, but I don't necessarily hold to the view that "if only Levy had offered £Xm in June this would've all been sorted." That to me feels overly simplistic and reductionist for a club of Tottenham's stature and current position just behind the elites of Europe. Nor do I think this lack of a signing happened for lack of trying. Not signing one in this window will hurt us in the short term, and it sucks that we need to hang our hat on young and converted players who are still developing and learning the game, but it is what it is.
This window has put Spurs on a platform by which they can improve over the next couple of years. I hate to say it again, but patience and a long view is needed. Grade: C+.
In my mind, Spurs entered the offseason with two clear missions: beef up the attack and sign at least two midfielders. The former we accomplished in pretty spectacular fashion, the latter, not so much.
Spurs bough smartly early in the window, bringing in Trippier, Wimmer, and Alderweireld made our defense much more solid and ensured we wouldn't have to see Eric Dier as a right back. The additions of Clinton N'jie and Son Heung-Min were also excellent. Son in particular is better than any player I anticipated Spurs would sign. He has the chance to be great for us.
Still, not signing a midfielder is bad and really drops the grade down for me. I get that Spurs want to make the right purchase, but the fact that of all the players available they couldn't identify and sign even one to come in a shore up the midfield seems like a failure to me. Overall, this feels like a C+ window to me. Grade: C+
We didn't sign a defensive midfielder. We are now fully dependent on Eric Dier both being as good as he's appeared to be over 360 minutes, and on his remaining healthy and not picking up a bunch of red card suspensions. These are major problems with the squad that should have been fixed in the transfer window. I believe there were CMs we could have bought (Clasie and Imbula, maybe, or an earlier move for a Witsel or a Ki). This counts as a failure of Levy, Mitchell and co.
But there is a but, and it is significant. Heung Min Son is a better player than we expected Spurs to acquire during any summer. He is a perfect fit for the squad, adding both goal-scoring and athletic, skillful pressing and build-up play. He's the best, and he's going to make us better. Son's presence in the press will help out midfield, and opposition teams devoting extra resources to tracking his runs will free space for Harry Kane up top and for the midfield behind him. Football is a dynamic sport, and while the lack of a true DM can't be entirely papered over, it can be mitigated.
Toby Alderweireld at center back will also aid in this mitigation, as Spurs now have two athletic, ball-playing CBs who can help each other out. That was a pretty great addition. Converting Eric Dier to DM and using Mousa Dembele and a pressing AM function as excellent additions. There are a bunch of useful, upside-y pieces added beyond that.
I'm not jumping for joy over a window that left us badly short in central midfield. But I'm very happy with all the other parts of this window and think the negativity elsewhere is overstated. Grade: B-
Our biggest problem last season was by far our midfield, and at first blush it seems like our transfer business completely failed to address this massive hole in our team. However, without spending a penny (pence?) we've still managed to improve the position from last year. Pochettion's conversion of Eric Dier into a seemingly functioning defensive midfielder has proved more than workable over the first four games. Additionally, January signing Dele Alli has returned to the fold and already made an immediate impact. Between these two players, we just might have answered our biggest question. If a top class player like Schneiderlin was available, then signing him would have been great. But in the absence of a real midfield star, is this any worse than signing another Stambouli or Fazio just to get in a warm body?
We also signed Son Heung-Min, who is immediately one of the best players on this team. I can't overstate what a great player he is, and how excited I am to have him on the team. Add in a promising moneyball player like Clinton N'Jie, and promising academy players like Pritchard and Carroll returning to the squad, and we've got some quality attacking depth. At the back, Alderweireld looks to be our best centerback, and I would be surprised of Trippier doesn't end the season as our first choice right back. Wimmer's a bit of an unknown, but has a lot of upside.
We're short of cover at striker, but if Kane goes down we're screwed anyway and there's nobody we could have signed to fix that problem. But we have guys like Son, Clinton, and Chadli who all may be able to do a job there if we need to. Is it ideal? Not at all. But it's not the end of the world. After all, we went into last season with Adebayor as our first choice striker and somehow that worked out.
Levy also did a fantastic job offloading tons of dead weight and recouping decent fees for guys who were never going to contribute this season, which helps reduce the wage bill, but also means increased opportunity for our academy kids and the potential to see some new "signings" graduate from Mason Kane University. All in all, we addressed a lot of problems, made smart internal personnel adjustments, and didn't waste money on a panic buy. A lot hinges on Kane's fitness and Dier's progression, but if Spurs can't YOLO who can? Grade: B
Earl of Shoop
The signings this window are - to a player - wonderful. Really, they are. I'm thrilled with them. Son, in particular, is a remarkable acquisition and will make us instantly better in attack. And our work to shore up the back line has been great (hey we were even able to troll Southampton! Bonus!). We're thin at striker, sure, but we've added enough potential firepower to make up for having to slot Son, Chadli, or Clinton into that role occasionally.
But now that the window's closed we're left with a glaring issue in central midfield that we simply did not resolve - and one that's less easily mitigated when going to plan b than the attacking issue above. Poche seems to have seen the problem at DM last season and entered this window with a plan to fix it. We sold two DMs in Stambouli and Capoue that were apparently never going to work for us. And then we replaced them with... a repurposed CB. Sure, Dier played the role at Sporting and has been good (very good, even!), but if my math serves me that still leaves us net -1 DM.
What happens if/when Dier is injured or suspended? Even if neither of those happens we have a huge number of fixtures and he can't play every minute of every match. Who comes in for him? No one in the side that we've seen plugged into that position previously is good enough in that role for a club with top-four aspirations. We will absolutely see makeshift, cobbled together (and sub-par) midfields at several points during 15/16, and that is unacceptable.
Even with all the good, this is a very, very serious bad. Grade: D
For me, this window can only be graded a D at best owing to the failure to acquire another CM and address the single biggest problem of last season. Maybe converting Eric Dier into a DM is the answer to our fragility (though not our lack of creativity?...) in the centre, but gambling the season on him adapting completely to the role on the fly still feels like quite a stretch for me. Perhaps Alli could step up to the plate, but again, hoping a 19 year old whose career experience is primarily in League One seems an excessively risky move for a club chasing the top four, or even trying just to consolidate in the top six.
We brought in a director of recruitment that was supposed to fix problems like this for us, and it's inconceivable to me that he spent the whole summer scanning the football leagues of the world and couldn't come up with a better, affordable alternative. If Paul Mitchell couldn't come up with any targets full stop, though, then either he couldn't come up with any *realistic* targets, or he was never briefed to find any in the first place as Poch just didn't think we needed any new bodies in at all- in any of these scenarios, somebody with a key role in buying players (ie Poch, Mitchell or Levy) has demonstrated damaging, rank incompetence. Meanwhile, we sold most of the other bodies in midfield, meaning that our already very weak plan A isn't backed up with a real plan B either.
All of these missteps have led Spurs' transfer efforts to result in total, unmitigated failure again what should have been the key objective this summer. Son and Toby are fantastic buys, though, that raise this two grades up from a flat F. Grade: D
Son Heung-Min, Toby Alderweireld, Clinton N’Jie and Kevin Wimmer are really good signings. I’m happy we got all of them. But we didn’t sign a central midfielder, and that’s inexcusable.
It was clear that it was the position where we most needed an upgrade. If Spurs signed none of the above players and signed one good central midfielder, they’d be a better team than they are right now. We got a brand new paint job on a car that has engine problems. I doubt we manage 6th. Grade: D-
Our window started off strong with the signings of Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer. Toby Alderweireld was a fantastic pick up to finish shoring up the back line and instantly improved our defense. I keep wanting to lump Alli into this, but he was technically signed in January and only just came back from loan, but he obviously feels like a new signing. N'Jie could end up being a big reward signing but is very raw and we haven't seen what he's capable of doing yet. Son is the signing I'm the most excited for as he's a proven talent who has seen Champions' League action and should improve our attack immensely. However, there's this glaring feeling that we've missed out by not signing a midfielder to spell Dier as well as whiffing on Berahino after taking that saga down to the wire and being relegated to trying and decipher a tweet that could either mean Berahino wouldn't screw Peace or he wouldn't play for Peace.
I'm impressed with the money we've received for some of our sales, including somehow getting £10m for Paulinho and netting a profit on Stambouli. I was sad to see Soldado go, but that was the best case scenario for all parties. While I had wished we had bought a defensive midfielder and picked up Berahino, the window isn't all doom and gloom. We'll see how it goes, but for now, there were some good signings we can't ignore. Grade: B-
Son Heung-Min is a star. He’s far better than anyone I expected us to sign this window. He and Clinton Njie should transform the look of our attack. In defence, Toby Alderweireld was a terrific pickup, while Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier should make us much more solid in cup competitions.
Importantly, we sold many, though not all, of our fringe players. None of Soldado, Paulinho, Stambouli, Capoue, Kaboul, or Lennon were likely to make important contributions this year, so clearing them off the wage bill now will be valuable going forward.
The grade for this window would have been an A if we signed a central midfielder. It’s a shame we couldn’t sign one, but it’s not clear to me this was a particularly easy task - teams like Chelsea and Arsenal, who can spend far more than us and have just as much of a need, failed to sign CMs as well.
Pochettino knows CM is a problem position but spending big to sign someone we don’t love is not a good way to do business. Better to let Dier, Bentaleb, Mason, and Alli develop there for now and then sign a player we really love next year. Grade: B
I think this window is a C. Our clearest need this window was a defensive midfielder. While we have addressed that by shifting Eric Dier into that position, he is a rather inexperienced player in that position and we don't have a ton of depth there. So we've addressed it, but we're taking the most risky path forward. People are going to talk about our failure to sign a back up striker, but honestly I think a Dier injury is far more dangerous to Spurs' season than a Kane injury.
While the lack of a new DM is frustrating, we signed some really good players this window. Toby has made our backline much more solid, Wimmer gives us backline support, Trippier gives us some much needed depth at right back, N'Jie is an exciting prospect, and Son is incredibly good. I think most Spurs fans are underrating how good Son is. He is quite literally better than any player I thought we would sign this window. While I'd prefer to have an out and out striker backing up Kane, I think that we can cobble together a back up from N'Jie/Son/Chadli, even if it isn't ideal. We made some really excellent additions to our team this year, but we took some big gambles on some inexperienced players to address our biggest holes. Let's hope it works out. Grade: C
This window is a firm B. Toby Aldewerield is a good, steady center back and we bought young defenders in Kieran Trippier and Kevin Wimmer to solidify our depth. We also added pace in the form of Son and Clinton, something this squad has sorely lacked as we look to transition to attack from the press. Now we shouldn't have to rely so heavily on Danny Rose in this aspect of our game.
We didn't sign a midfielder, but I wasn't under the impression that we weren't trying. The window doesn't always work out perfectly, and it didn't accommodate us and our midfield needs this time. I'm less inclined to be angry about that than others. Doesn't make me right, just explains why I'm positive.
Also, we got rid of most of our dead weight! Ade is an outlier, forget him. We got actual, spendable money for Paulihno. Grade: B