Just after Tottenham Hotspur defeated Leicester City 5-4 in both clubs’ final match in the 2017-18 Premier League season, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino had some very candid comments about the future of the club. Those comments, which talked about “taking risks” going forward, alluded to the need for more money allocated to transfers and wages, and seemed to be, if not an ultimatum, at minimum the expression of a desire to kick things up a notch in north London.
One day after giving those comments, which predictably sent ripples through the English football media, a new report has emerged from Matt Law in the the Telegraph that could expound upon Pochettino’s plans. According to the report, Pochettino plans to ask Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and owner Joe Lewis for an investment of £150m to help Spurs be able to compete financially with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool.
In recent years, the financial realities of Tottenham in relation to its rivals has been well documented, but Pochettino is hopeful that careful and timely investment in a World Cup year could propel Spurs into true title contenders.
£150m is a lot of money, but it comes with a few caveats. According to Law, the kitty would not only be used for player acquisitions but also to revamp the wage structure to give key Spurs players such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris, Christian Eriksen, and Eric Dier new and improved contracts. The money would be in part financed by player sales — the article specifically references Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, and Mousa Dembele, with “question marks over the futures of Victor Wanyama, Fernando Llorente and Moussa Sissoko.”
The Guardian says something similar, with David Hytner also suggesting that the club is willing to listen to offers for Alderweireld, Rose, and Dembele, and suggesting that the club is willing to listen to offers for all three.
Who might be coming in? Law writes that United forward Anthony Martial is high on Pochettino’s list, as is Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, Newcastle captain Jamal Lascelles, Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon, Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic, and Benfica midfielder Bryan Cristante, currently on loan at Atalanta.
And Pochettino wants to work fast -- with the World Cup on the horizon, Poch wants to get new contracts for his preferred players before the squad departs for their various national teams. The transfer window opens this Thurdsay and closes before the start of the season on August 8. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to get business done with a pesky international tournament sucking up most of the oxygen in June and July, and while Spurs will probably continue to do late business the way they always have, the window closing before the season opens means that they will be better placed to bed in their new signings before kick-off of week 1.
I don’t know how much of this report to believe, but the broad strokes seems to fit very well with Pochettino’s end-of-season comments about risk-taking and “crazy ideas.” There is a sense that Poch may think he has taken the club as far as he can with the current wage and transfer structures, and that with a shiny new stadium opening next year and three consecutive top three finishes in the bag now is the time to make a concerted push to win the league and trophies.
To do so requires significant finances, and Law even suggests that with Pochettino set to talk to Levy this week about the future, Joe Lewis might be involved as well. That’s particularly interesting — Lewis has been almost excessively hands-off as club owner, insisting that Spurs balance their books and live within their means. It’s not out of the question to wonder if Pochettino’s audacious plan could involve Lewis opening his pocketbook a little and injecting a little cash into player acquisition.
I don’t know what this means, but it could be that this is going to be one of the more interesting, and possibly exciting off-seasons we’ve had in a while. And that’s saying a lot. Quite likely we’ll be saying goodbye to some popular players this summer in order to raise funding for new signings. If Matt Law (and by extension, Pochettino) is correct, if the club acquiesces to Pochettino’s new vision for the club it could set Spurs up for a huge amount of success in the future.
And if not, well, the only true constant in life and in football is change.