Perhaps in large part due to qualifying for this year’s Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur find themselves in their most productive financial situation in quite some time. Over the years Spurs have been criticized for their reluctance to back managers and spend significant capital. Instead, it has been off the field where Spurs have made decisions to invest heavily.
When we think about the club and the platform they have been building, credit has to be given to Daniel Levy who has transitioned the club from a sleeping giant to a potential cash-cow waiting for the product on the field to match the ambition off of it. The man who Levy pegged to take the team to the promised land is none other than Antonio Conte, who has hinted time and time again during his tenure that significant investment and patience will be needed before Spurs are able to compete with the most elite clubs in the world.
After Conte successfully navigated Spurs to a Champions League spot this past season, it was reported that ENIC — Tottenham’s majority shareholder — would be injecting a £150 million capital increase into the squad, ostensibly for making upgrades to the starting XI. Once Spurs officially qualified for the Champions League, most expected a big summer was on the horizon with the future earnings and profits from that campaign mixed in with the capital increase. Spurs were also starting to make some money from the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, now operating at peak capacity with match day revenue, concessions, as well as the various types of external events (boxing matches, concerts, etc.) held in N17.
Spurs promised to spend earlier this summer and they have lived up to that promise. And while the expectation is that Spurs, after announcing their sixth signing of the summer in Djed Spence on Tuesday, will now focus on shifting out some players in the squad, the reality is that Spurs are in such a good financial situation at the moment that they are now also poised to take advantage of transfer window bargains that may come later in the summer.
This realization came to me on Tuesday when Juventus ‘gazumped” Inter Milan for central defender and Brazilian international Gleison Bremer. You may remember that Inter had personal terms with Bremer agreed since January (!!!). This was a player who wanted to play for Inter and despite this, Inter — because of their financial situation — haggled, delayed, and never really increased their offer, leading to an opportunity for Juventus to jump in.
Hours prior to Bremer being linked heavily to Juve, Bayern Munich came in for Juventus’ and Dutch international Matthijs De Ligt for a reported bid of €70m that could rise to €80m depending on add-ons. Almost immediately, Juventus then took a portion of the De Ligt transfer earnings and sent it to crosstown rivals Torino for Bremer’s services. The number that is being reported is €47m. So, in roughly 24 hours or so, Juventus sold an exceptional, young talent in defense for yet another and made €20-30m depending on add-ons. I cannot believe I am saying it, but this is a good example of business from Juventus — a club that has been notorious in recent seasons for overspending and missing out on transfers (somewhat of a ricochet shot to Fabio Paratici).
It is these types of sliding door moments that can be the difference between a successful transfer window and a failed one. Moving swiftly is imperative, especially in a market like today’s. As we look back on Inter and their Bremer mishap, their financial situation in the past few years has led them to selling a lot of their key players, including Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi. After missing out on winning a consecutive Scudetto to crosstown rivals AC Milan, Inter dug their heels when they fended off Spurs’ interest in Alessandro Bastoni. Then, they brought back Lukaku on loan. However, because of these moves among others, they still needed to raise capital.
In an effort to balance the books, Inter had been in talks with PSG for weeks over the potential transfer of Milan Škriniar. But with the Bremer deal falling through, I wonder if Škriniar is even still available. If he is still available, then who do Inter have lined up to take his place and fill his role in the squad while also staying at a competent level? That is the question that is unanswered and they only have themselves to blame for dragging their feet because — as mentioned above — they simply were not swift enough.
Spurs tie into the above here because Inter may now feel that because their backup plan of Bremer fell through, it may be wiser for them to part with Bastoni as there is already concrete interest from Conte’s side. Of course Spurs would need to get assurances from the player himself, but the point that is important here is that a bevy of clubs across multiple leagues in the world are going to find themselves in situations — like Inter’s — where they have to toe the line and make player-personnel decisions based heavily off the influence of their financials.
The Inter predicament is just one example. Whether it is clubs aspiring to meet and comply with Financial Fair Play regulations, new owners coming into the fold and looking to rebuild, or even clubs with off-field issues that force them into selling some of their prized assets, Spurs have positioned themselves to where they can take advantage.
Of course, it should be said that Spurs did not spend heavily in past transfer windows and that was likely a huge reason why under Mauricio Pochettino Tottenham never got over the top despite punching well above their weight class for years. But that does not take away from the fact that whether it was by causation or correlation, Spurs are in a situation where they can continue to evolve and grow under a spectacular manager in Conte, and have the financial clout to match his ambitions.
So while Spurs will be focused on their outgoings in the coming days and weeks, Paratici and company have been quick to pull the trigger a number of times this summer. That should continue if the right type of deal pops up and the potential to improve the squad arrives. But as various teams will need to cut bait and find themselves in tricky financial situations, it is Spurs — known typically as the club who develops young talent and sells off its best assets to bigger clubs (see: Gareth Bale & Luka Modric) — who can be the predator and flex their muscles.
Follow me on Twitter @RyanSRatty.