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Grading Tottenham Hotspur’s summer transfer window

The Cartilage Free Captain masthead sounds off on the transfer window as a whole.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

There’s a lot to unpack in Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer market dealings this summer. It started out very fast with two purchases relatively early in the window, and closed with a finger-chewing, frenetic final hour.

We needed a little time to digest everything that happened in the window, but we also have #takes. So we polled the Cartilage Free Captain masthead for their window grades, and why they felt that way.

Dustin Menno

Three weeks before the close of the window, I was very close to writing and posting an article about how this was the most chill Tottenham transfer window I could remember as a fan. I’m kind of glad I scrapped that idea. It’s been a weird window for a variety of reasons. First, there were relatively few major holes in the side or areas that needed addressing. For the first time in what feels like forever, Spurs didn’t need a major signing to make themselves better: what they needed was depth.

On that front, I feel like they succeeded. Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen, Spurs’ two earliest signings, aren’t locked-in starters, but they’re both good players with the ability to become better. Georges-Kevin N’Koudou looks like a project, but he offers a different look and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. Sure, Spurs whiffed on the big names like Mario Götze and Isco, but the players who they got will help the team.

Much digital ink has already been spilled about the £30m signing of Moussa Sissoko, and I won’t repeat it except to say that while it’s an obvious overpay, I still think that Sissoko, being a player that has the flexibility to play in four different positions, is a good signing for Tottenham that will make them a better team. Is he worth £30m? Probably not. Am I sorry he’s on the team? Absolutely not.

The players who left the club were the ones that, frankly, needed to go to either further their development or to get a fresh start. Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb, and Nacer Chadli in particular slowly drifted out of favor with Mauricio Pochettino and were not contributing at a level that befits a Champions League-qualifying squad. It was time for them to move on, for everyone’s sake.

The new post-window team is smaller, leaner, and younger, even with Sissoko breaking the curve. Players like Josh Onomah and Harry Winks will get chances to play and develop, but the spine of the team that took Tottenham to second third (still hurts) is still there. I’m happy with the window.

Grade: A-

Luke Zimmerman

Spurs' problems at the end of last season and early this one have been as much mental as physical, but depth is mission critical to sustain the grind of playing two or more times a week over the long haul with Champions League and Premier League responsibilities. Victor Wanyama is part of that solution, but as evidenced in the team's tooth-and-nail draw against Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, he’s only one piece of a yet-to-be-completed bigger puzzle.

Moussa Sissoko may well fit another area in need of fortification, adding the versatility to bring pace off the edge while situationally filling in to attack the defense more centrally. His time up north in Newcastle was nothing if not temperamental though, and with a sizable prize tag comes lofty expectations, particularly with a costly move to a new stadium just on the horizon for Spurs. The Frenchman did show his willingness to rise to the occasion when surrounded by more talented players at this past summer's Euro 2016. In the new economics of the 2016-17 Premier League, even playing at or near his price tag would prove a huge net win.

New backup striker Vincent Janssen's looked the genuine article in limited duty and the 40-days-and-40-nights-transferee Georges-Kevin N'Koudou, while raw, brings a lot of the pace-dribbling width potential Spurs have coveted more of.

Perhaps the biggest transfer of them all was one not made: second year Spurs attacking midfielder Heung-Min Son will have the opportunity to further grow into his stay in North London and prove both that an underwhelming start to his tenure and rumors of his being unsettled don't define him. If Sonny can turn into the kind of player Mauricio Pochettino envisioned when he first made the move to the Premier League, a very good team's odds of turning into a great one only further increase.

All this without any mention of Ryan Mason. No player's been more polarizing amongst Tottenham supporters with opinions ranging from his being a do-it-all heart-of-the-club to him being dismissed as a scrappy-but-limited try-hard. For the Tottenham business hive mind to flip him to another Premier League team for over £10m only further speaks to their adept navigation of the market. With those minutes freed up for higher ceiling possessing and more deserving players, the kind of team Spurs are aspiring to be becomes more and not less possible.

Grade: A-

Brian Meyers

I’m not sure how I feel about this window. Up until deadline day I thought that we were OK, but would have liked to make a few more smaller moves. Then we spent a whole bunch of money on N’Koudou and Sissoko. N’Koudou is theoretically a similar player to N’jie, so we’ll see if he works out any better. Is Sissoko a good fit? Is he worth the money? Who knows! We’ll have to wait to see if Sissoko can play first team football with us or he’s just a bench guy. As for our other guys who came in, Wanyama and Janssen both have looked good in their time here, so I’m happy for now with those signings.

As for our outgoing transfers I don’t have much complaints. Chaldi and Mason don’t have the ability to play for a team trying to be top four in a much more competitive league. We sold them both for a good amount of money as well. I’m sad that Yedlin never got his chance with the club, but it seems he never fit what Poch wanted him to be. 9 million euros is great money for Pritchard, who almost never played first team football.

Grade: B

Jake Meador

Heading into the summer we knew we needed major upgrades in midfield and some added depth at striker. We also probably needed to sell Yedlin or Trippier and, if possible, move players like Bentaleb, Mason, and Chadli.

At window's end we've added a very strong backup to Kane, brought in two new midfielders, one of whom can also play in the attacking three. We added a young fast winger who can provide a change of pace off the bench as well. We also moved Ryan Mason, Nacer Chadli, Alex Pritchard, and DeAndre Yedlin for close to £35m total, if the reported fees are accurate.

The Sissoko fee is obviously inflated and has a panicked air about it, somewhat reminiscent of the Clint Dempsey signing a few years ago. That said, with the Champions League money and the Premier League TV money, that fee isn't going to kill us and the addition, at the very least, does not hurt us. If Pochettino (and compatriot and national team captain Hugo Lloris) can get Good Sissoko to show up on a regular basis, this instantly becomes an excellent deal for Spurs. Bracketing the Sissoko question, however, the rest of this transfer window has been a great success for Spurs. We moved all the players we wanted to move. We brought in a striker and midfielder who both look capable of starting for us on a regular basis if needed. If you're mad about how this window went, you need to reset your expectations because this was a very good window given our club's financial resources and limitations.

Grade: B (with potential to go up to an A if the Sissoko signing pans out)

Pardeep Cattry

The transfer window, before the dramatic final day, involved a lot of logical comings and goings. Of the players who left White Hart Lane this summer, most were unsurprising. With the exception of Yedlin, the likes of Pritchard, Chadli, Bentaleb, Fazio, and Mason had gotten their opportunities to prove their worth and simply didn't make enough of an impact. As for Yedlin, he clearly didn't get many first team minutes, but he reportedly wanted a starting role, and that was not likely with Walker still the head of the right back pack.

As for the Tottenham newbies, they all add some major squad depth. Wanyama and Janssen so far have shown a lot of quality in the few matches they've played, allowing Pochettino the ability to tinker with his squad when everyone's healthy and available. N'Koudou, though lacking the minutes Wanyama and Janssen have, could do more of the same. Lopez is an interesting transfer, especially if his stay extends past the current one year loan deal he's on. If that is the case, he provides the opportunity to phase out Lloris sooner rather than later while providing the club with a long term goalkeeper in the post-Lloris era.

The major talking point, though, is Sissoko, who may be the make or break man when it comes to defining this transfer window and Tottenham's future transfer strategy. While Sissoko shined at the Euros, his record at Newcastle differs greatly. His inconsistency makes him a risky buy, and certain grumblings about his attitude make him seem like an odd choice for Pochettino, who prefers hard-working players. The high price tag only adds to the discussion, and the late bid makes the whole thing seem like a panic move. A bigger issue of the Sissoko transfer, though, is that this is the first signing for Tottenham sans Mitchell, making it an important marker of who Pochettino is as a transfer man. Only time will tell how Sissoko does at Spurs, but this deal has a lot of question marks on it, more so than the others.

Grade: B

GN Punk

This is one of the strangest transfer windows for Spurs I've been a part of. After last year's drawn out saga that petered out with absolutely nothing from West Bromwich Albion, this year Spurs got busy and made moves early. I love the move to get Victor Wanyama, a midfielder destroyer with Premier League experience, to provide depth in the pivot behind Eric Dier.

So far so good with Vincent Janssen as well. While he has yet to score a goal in league play, I love what we're seeing from him. He's a high energy guy who seems relentless in press and it's only a matter of time until he's banging in goals up top when Harry Kane needs a break. While there's been some issues recently with players coming in from the Eredivisie, I think Janssen can buck that trend.

Then Spurs went silent for a few weeks. There were hardly any sales early on and most of the movement was either loans for our youth players or just some random rumors. The N'Koudou / Clinton saga would have been the story of the transfer window for Spurs had it not been for the final 24 hours involving Moussa Sissoko, who is now our joint record signing and I have no clue how I should feel about that. Sissoko will provide needed depth in the midfield, but was he really worth £30m? Only time will tell. He's 27 years old, has Premier League experience, and will get to play in the Champions League. If we get Euro 2016 Sissoko, we're getting a hell of a player. If we get 2015-2016 Sissoko at Newcastle that generally stunk up the join, then we're in deep trouble.

All in all, I think the window was fine. We jettisoned some players that weren't going to contribute, made a few key signings, and had one epic, banter-filled saga involving Sissoko and Everton. Time to stop caring about transfers and focus solely on football.

Grade: B


The Moussa Sissoko drama clouds what was an incredibly efficient and positive summer transfer window for Tottenham Hotspur. The two paramount issues to consider for the club heading into this summer was their continued financial transition into their new stadium and their need to maintain and content their outstanding core of young superstars. The squad needed to bolster the talent of its depth, not acquire some surefire first eleven superstar.

In this regard, they were quite successful. Save the center-back and full-back positions they improved the depth at every single spot. Wanyama can push Dier, Sissoko an able replacement for Moose and even the attacking band, GNK provides pace and dribbling ability for a different look from Lamela, Eriksen, and Alli and, finally, Vincent Janssen is promising player to back-up or play alongside Harry Kane. Even our keeper depth was improved with the highly-rated Pau Lopez coming in on loan.

None of these players are immediate upgrades to the incumbents in their positions, but they are fantastic options for genuine rotation. Wanyama-Sissoko-Onomah-Sonny-GNK-Janssen is a formidable lineup and one that we would trust against most Premier League foes and it’d be second string for us right now. Our squad might be smaller in number than other top level sides, but this is the most quality in depth for Spurs that I can ever remember.

Further, we got rid of the proverbial deadwood. Levy got £13 million pounds for Ryan Mason and Nacer Chadli each — which is astonishing. Those moves right there could make the window a success for some. Bentaleb too is rumored to have a nice fee attached to his loan if Schalke decide to exercise it. Yet the most important factor of this window is that we continue to improve the contracts of those who got us here and we aren’t messing with the balance of the squad. Our spirit last year was special and it is that camaraderie that will push our stupidly talented side to continue to progress towards their high-ceiling potential.

Outside of the fee for Sissoko (which reports this morning point to Levy actually getting a super smart deal for the Frenchman), I loved this window. We got what look like absolute bargain deals for Wanyama and Janssen and improved across the board. Save an earth-shattering marquee signing like Götze or Isco and it was as good of a window as one could have asked for.

Excited to see what this team can do!

Grade: A-

Bryan A.

As the usual voice of optimism and sunshine, I feel obligated to tell you that this window is awesome and, despite whatever doom and gloom thing Michael Caley or anyone else has to say about the transfer of Moussa Sissoko, I think everything is wonderful and amazing.

The transfer window should be evaluated based on two things: did the team improve and were areas of weakness addressed. In the past, Spurs could often say that they hit on one of these items, but missed the mark squarely on the other. This summer, however, Pochettino, Daniel Levy, and the oft-unremarked upon Rebecca Caplehorn, succeed in accomplish both.

The additions of Sissoko, N'Koudou, Lopez, Wanyama, and Janssen are all, unquestionable, upgrades over the players that they replace in the squad and their presence (with the possible exception of Lopez) will be integral to Spurs playing 180 minutes of football on a weekly basis. The signings also addressed specific areas of weakness—backup striker and central midfield—where Spurs were over-reliant on certain key players in seasons past.

If I have one quibble with the window, it's that we did not add a 4th central defender. I know the argument is basically that some combination of Eric Dier and Cameron Carter-Vickers can fill that role, but I would have preferred a signing here, especially if Kevin Wimmer continues to be mysteriously MIA.

Grade: A-

Alex Greenberg

It's tough to judge a transfer window right after it happens, but I'm excited about the players we've brought in. The signings of N'Koudou, Wanyama, and Janssen shouldn't be too controversial, all three fill needs left by departed players, but the Sissoko deal will certainly divide opinion among Spurs fans.

Wanyama has shown very well in his first matches with Tottenham, especially in aspects of his game that we were most worried about. All we heard about Victor was that he couldn't pass and would struggle at dribbling out of trouble. I've seen no signs of that, so I'd say he's even been better than expected so far. Janssen hasn't scored yet, but no one would argue he's been a bad signing. We needed another striker to take some of the load off Harry Kane, and we got one with quite a bit of promise. N'Koudou is a bit of an unknown entity at this point, but he seems eager to (finally) suit up for Spurs. Plus he's quick, fast, AND he's got pace.

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of Spurs fans who aren't happy about the Sissoko deal. I was initially concerned when I saw we'd be paying ₤30 million for him, but my worries have been assuaged a bit. We needed another midfielder and it's not like ₤30 million is going to bankrupt the club. The idea of Harry Winks or Josh Onomah being relied on in the Champions League was scary. They're bright young players, but you don't test whether a youth player can sink-or-swim in the top club competition of them all. I think we'll see more of the Sissoko that played for France, as opposed to the Sissoko who played for Newcastle. Can anyone really blame him for not being super-motivated to take part in a relegation battle with Newcastle? He'll be fine as long as he throws away the Arsenal kits and heeds Poch's every command.

My mind doesn't disagree with any of the decisions we made to offload players, but my heart does. I loved Nacer Chadli. He showed passion for the club, made attempts to connect with Spurs fans on social media and elsewhere, and he shushed the gooners after scoring at the Library. He's a good player, but we'd outgrown him as a club, so the deal makes sense. I'll always cherish the memories given to us by "The Dolphin Who Shushed The Emirates".

Ryan Mason was a local lad who came through the academy, so you always feel bad when someone like him is sold. But it was clearly time for him to go. Good guy, not good enough for Spurs. And as much as we all wanted DeAndre Yedlin to succeed, he never really came close. At least I'll be able to tell my Grand-children that I was at White Hart Lane the day he played 11 minutes as we lost to TIM SHERWOOD'S Aston Villa. On second thought, maybe I should work on blocking that game from my memory.

Grade: B+