A few weeks ago, Chelsea Football Club was rocked by news that FIFA was banning them for two consecutive windows over improprieties related to the recruitment of youth players. Chelsea’s request to have the transfer ban rescinded pending appeal was rejected, and barring any further updates that ban will take place starting this summer.
Now, it appears another top Premier League club is also affected. The Times of London is reporting that today that Manchester City is expected to be hit with the same charge of improper youth recruitment by FIFA, and with the same penalty, a two-window transfer ban. The Times notes that the charges are unlikely to be formally revealed until next month. But if that’s true, that could be very good news for City’s rivals, especially Tottenham Hotspur.
Everyone knows that Tottenham are the first Premier League club not to sign a single incoming first team player in two consecutive transfer windows, but that streak is extremely unlikely to continue. Spurs already face the prospect of losing both defender Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen this summer, and if this season has taught us anything it’s that Spurs already have some pretty significant holes in the side and depth concerns. Spurs WILL buy players this summer, though the number and positions of these new players is of course yet to be determined.
An apocryphal transfer story floating around describes how Tottenham thought they had addressed their biggest issue — central midfield — last summer as they were very close to signing Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele, only for his agent to move the financial goalposts at the last minute. Likewise, Spurs were heavily involved in the recruitment of Ajax center back Matthijs De Ligt. Neither signed for Spurs, obviously, and both continued to be very closely linked with big-money moves to City this coming summer.
But now imagine for a second that City indeed will have a two-window transfer ban. That changes the calculus dramatically. It doesn’t mean that players that were expected to sign with City suddenly fall into Tottenham’s lap — both De Ligt and Ndombele will have their share of suitors — but those players are extremely unlikely to stay at their current clubs. They’re going to move SOMEWHERE, and with Chelsea and City both banned, two of the richest clubs in the league are now out of the picture. That gives Tottenham a puncher’s chance, should they opt to try.
If they do end up transfer banned, City is probably going to weather this particular storm pretty well. They do have a few aging stars like Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero that will need cover, but their depth is pretty good already and they have a good enough academy that they can get additional time out of prospects like Phil Foden. According to the Times, Pep Guardiola was asked about whether they’d be okay if they couldn’t sign players for a year, and he seemed perfectly fine, “Of course,” he said, “It’s good. The squad [depth] is good, really good.”
I’m not saying any of this is likely. It’s definitely pie-in-the-sky kind of Tottenham-fan speculation. But Spurs do appear to be poised to potentially take advantage of City’s misfortune, provided that they are able to compete at the financial level that City was playing at. And can you imagine someone like Ndombele potentially falling into Spurs’ lap when the window opens?
Regardless of what ends up happening, if I’m Daniel Levy, I’m on the phone IMMEDIATELY with Ndombele and De Ligt’s agents, as well as any other player of interest to both City and Spurs and jawing their ears off. After all, those players are going to end up at a new club this summer. Wouldn’t it be awesome if it was Tottenham?