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Cuti Romero’s transfer is actually a “Lo Celso-style” loan with a purchase option

Not what we expected, but actually pretty smart!

Tottenham Hotspur Unveil New Signing Christian Romero Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

When Cristiano “Cuti” Romero was announced as a Tottenham Hotspur player today, all of the media sources reported that the deal was for six years at the previously-announced amount of €50m + 5m in performance-related escalators.

But that’s not what Atalanta’s website said in the announcement of his departure.

Atalanta B.C. announce that the player Cristian Romero has joined Tottenham Hotspur on loan, with an option to make the move permanent.

Huh? Tottenham’s announcements and press releases never mentioned that fact. That set out a couple of hours of confusion as various organizations called around and tried to figure out what was going on.

It turns out — it’s correct. But if anyone’s worried about that, they shouldn’t be, as it’s pretty close to what they did when they purchased Giovani Lo Celso in the summer of 2019. Alasdair Gold seemed to confirm it a little later on:

Other reports say that, like with Gio, the loan could be made permanent as soon as this coming January.

This is actually really smart. Tottenham have money, even after COVID, unlike a lot of other clubs right now, especially foreign ones. What they don’t necessarily have is liquidity of funds. That said, COVID has definitely deflated the market prices for players right now, which means if you can afford to buy right now, it’s a great time to do it.

What Spurs have done with Romero, much like they did with Gio, is kick the can down the road a bit on a buy-now-pay-later plan, whereby they can lock in good prices for their players in the short term by agreeing to a brief loan with an obligation to buy, and then make the move permanent in the future when presumably have more liquidity and gate receipts start coming in. It worked pretty well with Gio, and I have no reason to think it wouldn’t work equally well with Cuti.

The transfer fee is still correct — £42m plus escalators, but it just won’t be paid right away. It’s a bit of an accounting trick, and it sounds a touch complicated, but that also might be why the deal seemingly took so long to get across the line.

Either way, it’s nothing to worry about. Romero is a Tottenham player now, and he will be (contractually) until 2027. That’s pretty sweet.