A lot has been written lately about Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur squad, especially in reference to the Spurs boss moving the goalposts on their Premier League prospects this season. What looked like a title-pushing campaign at the start of the season by many supporters has been revised back in recent weeks, and Conte has repeatedly said, in the face of underwhelming performances (if not results) that it would take “multiple windows” to get his squad to where he wants it.
That segues nicely into a new piece in the Evening Standard by Dan Kilpatrick which looks ahead to the January window. Kilpatrick writes that Tottenham is set to back Conte with additional incomings in the winter window, but as we saw in the summer, those incomings will need to be offset by departures.
Specifically, loans. In particular, Tottenham worked hard to find homes away from home for Japhet Tanganga and Bryan Gil this summer, but despite some serious interest nothing materialized by deadline day. Those two are the most likely to leave the club on loan this January, along with midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, who has yet to make an appearance for Spurs this season in any competition. Djed Spence is another player who could be temporarily sent out to make room for another first team signing.
Kilpatrick calls Tanganga, Gil, and Sarr “surplus to requirements” which feels a little harsh, especially for both Gil and Sarr, who are hugely promising talents. But Conte isn’t known for blooding in youngsters, and the Conte regime appears to be a “win now” project with little room for young players except in reserve roles. That’s not to say that these players can’t turn into major contributors in the future — Oliver Skipp is exhibit A in that regard — just that it’s unlikely that the minutes needed to develop them is going to come at Spurs this season.
There isn’t a lot in Kilpatrick’s article as to who might come in and bolster Tottenham’s currently injured squad. It notes past interest in Juventus’ Weston McKennie and Manuel Locatelli, and continued interest in Inter’s Alessandro Bastoni. Those names will likely emerge later on (I’ve already started a spreadsheet). But for now, the pattern seems clear — Spurs don’t have infinite spots in the first team, and any players they bring in will displace someone who is currently there. And it’s likely they’ll need to do the displacement first.