Looking back to last summer, coming off of a season that started off with Mauricio Pochettino and ended with a COVID-delayed run of games under José Mourinho, the cards were stacked against Tottenham Hotspur to make significant improvements to the first team.
Fast forward a year later and Spurs find themselves in a similar situation — with the loss of revenue from having no fans in the stands, paired with the lack of money from not making the Champions League, to the club owing a ton of debt stemming from the new stadium.
In recent years, it has become somewhat status quo that Spurs’ transfer policy has been ‘one player in, one player out’. The main positive about that policy is that if a club is given the time, they have room to navigate to have a successful summer.
However, with Spurs now going over two months without appointing a manager, time is not on their side. In less than a week, Spurs will be starting their pre-season trainings. And while the international games have provided somewhat of a disguise in not setting the club back in comparison to other English sides, the fact remains that new Managing Director of Football Fabio Paratici has his hands full in the club decision-making this summer with not a lot of time or space to make a mistake.
At the moment, it appears to be yet another financially-challenged summer for Spurs. That could change should Tottenham sell off their most-prized asset in Harry Kane. Like Spurs, most clubs will face COVID-implicated financial challenges that could leave the summer transfer window to be a bit barren. And due to this, it could likely price out bigger clubs from spending big money on a player like Kane.
Due to the fact that Spurs will certainly be operating on a budget this summer, there are still routes to follow to improve the squad. One way in doing this could be via ‘de facto swap deals’. In looking back to last summer, Tottenham were crying out for a player in the midfield to mop up behind their more-advanced options at the position. While Spurs brought in quite a number of players last summer, no player was more important and impactful to the team than Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.
While Højbjerg’s form dipped towards the end of the season, Tottenham was able to improve in the middle of the pitch by adding a player who has shown in the EUROs that he can even play in a more expansive role than the one he played at Spurs last season.
Højbjerg is the classic example of a good signing. 1) He improved the side and brought a dimension that others did not, 2) He did not face any significant health issues (apart from his form deteriorating from playing every match), and 3) perhaps most importantly for a somehow cash-strapped club like Tottenham, he did not cost a ton of money.
Prior to the signing of Højbjerg, former Tottenham youth product Kyle Walker-Peters had been out on loan at Southampton. As both sides wanted the other’s player, the deal was all but a swap deal. In terms of the math involved, Spurs brought in Højbjerg for a reported fee of £15 million plus add-ons, whereas Saints brought in Walker-Peters for a reported fee of £12 million. While Walker-Peters could have been Spurs’ best right back towards the end of last season, swapping Walker-Peters plus a few million (give or take depending on bonuses) for Højbjerg was excellent business from Tottenham. It could provide a roadmap towards success for this summer.
Let’s use another player in Tottenham’s squad that has run their course in north London and could be on the way out in the coming weeks. At 28 years of age, Ben Davies has been with the club since 2014. While he has been a nice, complementary player at times, Davies has never really taken advantage of the various opportunities he has been given. He showed this past season that he could tuck inside and operate as a center back, but Davies has a history of a lack of end-product going forward. With Tottenham supposedly wanting to get back to playing in an attacking-based nature, it is clear that perhaps both Sergio Reguilón and Ryan Sessegnon are better options for the next manager.
While the next manager should have a say in the future of Davies in their squad, there have been rumors that the Welsh international has been linked with a move to Napoli. The above ‘de facto swap deal’ of Højbjerg and Walker-Peters was a bit easy considering the teams involved. However, Tottenham should use it as a use case for how to approach their summer plans. Given the three years left on his contract and the versatility he showed he could provide, Davies could warrant between £10-20 million this summer.
Should this be the case, Spurs could utilize that money and bring in the likes of a player that they have been seriously linked to in the past few days in Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyaso. At 22 years old, Tomiyaso has shown the ability to play in a back-three as well as operate on the right flank. While he is a taller individual, the Japanese international can move around decently. He is comfortable with both feet, prompting the idea that perhaps Spurs would be open to the idea of utilizing him in a traditional left-footed centerback role.
Should Tottenham be able to sell off Davies in an effort to sign Tomiyaso, it would follow the roadmap of the ‘Højbjerg/Walker-Peters de facto swap deal’ that would be yet another good deal of business from Spurs. In doing this, they would seemingly get a better and younger player for just a small difference depending on the final pricing evaluations.
And this is just one plausible example. Below are a few more proposals that Spurs could think about if they were to operate in this matter.
Out: Moussa Sissoko
De facto swap player: Joachim Andersen
At 31 years of age, Sissoko is seemingly on the downside of his career, but he has a lot of experience under his belt both at the international and club level. Surely, Sissoko could garner around £10 million this summer if Spurs were to sell. Tottenham could use this money to sign Andersen, a player they have been linked to for years now and who is apparently on his way out of Lyon after returning on loan from Fulham.
Out: Serge Aurier
De facto swap player: Zeki Çelik
With one year left on his current deal, Aurier’s tenure has provided for many ups and many downs. Despite improving as a whole under Mourinho, Aurier is prone to silly mistakes. However, his ability to get forward could warrant a club to come in for a bid in the range of £12-15 million. In my opinion, Çelik is one of the more underrated right backs in world football. He would improve Tottenham on both ends of the pitch and would not be priced much more than Aurier.
Out: Lucas Moura
De facto swap player: Maxence Lacroix
Depending on the type of manager brought in, the future of Moura is in question for Tottenham. While Moura has provided some bright moments for Spurs, there have been far too many disappearing acts in between for the Brazilian. Lacroix has rejected a few contract extensions from Wolfsburg and could be available if the right bid were to come in. Lacroix would give Spurs a dynamic centerback who could operate in the wide areas and play accordingly in a back-three.
Out: Dele Alli
De facto swap player: Marcel Sabitzer
Sure it would not be the fan choice on here, but Dele has not been the player he has shown he can be for quite some time now. Despite this, he is still 25 years old and may just need a change of scenery. Selling Dele could open the door to bringing in Sabitzer from Leipzig, which would be some coup for Spurs who are crying out for creativity in the midfield.