Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy is not known as a person with a history of emotional outbursts. Lord knows we at this website have certainly played into that stereotype, referring him over the past nine years as a “bald business ninja jedi” and “vampire (but in a good way).”
But Levy’s apparent distance appears to be narrowing as Spurs prepare to play in their first ever Champions League final tomorrow in Madrid. In the Evening Standard (as reported by Dan Kilpatrick), Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said that he has witnessed a softening in Levy’s usual stoicism. You might even say he’s enjoying himself!
“I asked him on the plane back [from Amsterdam], ‘Daniel, do you believe what we achieved a few hours ago?’ He said, ‘I can’t believe it. To be honest, I never dreamed of being in this position.’
“Of course, he’s more a businessman. For people who are born to play football, it’s always easy to dream. Maybe he dreamed of different things, like creating the stadium and these facilities [at Hotspur Way]. The players know him very well, and on Monday he was here at the training ground, talking with all of us. He said, ‘Thank you, we are living a dream.’ Some of the players said, ‘It’s amazing – Daniel is more human!’
“It’s a side he never showed too much. He was always more distant, trying to keep the emotion inside. His improvement is like, ‘If the manager is crying, why can I not show more my emotion? It’s not so bad!’ Sometimes people in business believe you cannot show your emotion, like in poker. He was a little like this type of person, believing emotion was showing that you are weak. Now he is believing the opposite!”
Levy does have a reputation for being controlled in public. His demeanor is one of quiet stoicism and business-like attitude. And while we know (okay, assume) that he’s a person with real feelings and emotions and hopes and dreams, we rarely see him express anything beyond that calm, calculated look from the Tottenham executive’s box at the new stadium. Contrast that with Pochettino, who is all Latin emotion and energy and who wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s a strange pairing on the surface, but there can be little doubt that Pochettino and Levy work well together.
But don’t expect that crack in Levy’s emotional facade to equate to massive spending in the summer transfer window. Pochettino was quick to point out that just because Levy’s happy about a Champions League final doesn’t mean he’s going to be giving Poch a blank check.
“It’s not that he’s going to give us more money now – this area is not going to change, he’s going to be strong. But in the transformation of the club, he is a good example of how it is changing. In the personal relationships, he’s improving a lot from when we arrived here.”
Which begs the question: if Tottenham are truly going after the likes of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, both of which are expected to cost at or more than £55m-60m, just how are Spurs going to afford those transfer fees?
Kilpatrick goes on to suggest that while Spurs are expected to be given a modest transfer budget, they’ll be able to use the proceeds from player sales to add to their transfer kitty. That seems to imply that Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen might be moved on this summer for the right price, but also referenced are players like Kieran Trippier, Serge Aurier, Victor Wanyama, and Erik Lamela.
If we further extrapolate that mild to moderate deficits in the transfer window are acceptable (as opposed to a net spend of zero), that would imply 1-2 major signings this summer plus a bunch of younger, cheaper options that could be given time to develop. Spurs are already linked with the likes of Leeds’ Jack Clarke, Napoli’s Amadou Diawara, Norwich City’s Max Aarons, and Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon. Not all of them will be signed, of course, but shoring up the first XI while buying the next generation of talent is definitely Tottenham Hotspur’s modus operandi.