With the caveat that yes, we’ve been in this situation before, Tottenham Hotspur look like they have found their man. Multiple reports including the BBC, The Athletic, and football.london are now reporting that Tottenham are extremely close to appointing Nuno Espirito Santo as the club’s next permanent head coach.
The BBC reports that Managing Director of Football Fabio Paratici flew to London yesterday to complete negotiations. The Athletic states that final negotiations are ongoing today, but all parties are confident that an agreement will be reached. And football.london’s Alasdair Gold writes that an official announcement is likely to come before the end of the week, with Nuno ready to assume head coaching responsibilities in time for the start of preseason on Monday. Unconfirmed reports suggest a deal through the 2023-24 season.
Out of all the reports, Gold’s report is the most illuminating, as it references Daniel Levy’s hesitancy about Espirito Santo earlier in the process as it relates to Nuno’s track record of pragmatic, defensive football while at Wolves. However, Paratici apparently convinced Levy by showing highlights of Nuno’s tactics while at Valencia earlier in his career which was a much more progressive style of football.
football.london understands that during discussions Paratici showed Levy the way Espirito Santo’s entertaining Valencia side played, more often with a 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 than the back three he became known for at Wolves.
It is understood that during talks it was made clear by both Paratici and Espirito Santo that the football the Portuguese would bring to Tottenham would tick the attacking, entertaining boxes Levy had called for while also, at the same time, being strong at the back.
Both of those things — progressive, exciting football and an improvement in Tottenham’s defense — will likely be important, especially considering the priorities Levy set out in his end-of-season letter to Spurs supporters back in May.
The biggest downside to Nuno is, for many, his close ties to super-agent Jorge Mendes, which was extremely evident during his tenure at Wolves. However, as former manager Jose Mourinho was also a Mendes client, one could also make the argument that Spurs are already too close to Mendes, and this appointment may at minimum only maintain a status quo.
It’s still not a done deal, and we’ve seen evidence already that things can fall apart very quickly. However, it certainly does look like this is the direction Spurs are going to go, and you have to think that after a disastrous string of candidate failures that Spurs are going to be extremely reticent to open themselves up to another embarrassment.