The 2023 summer transfer window has closed, and we all have had a few days (and one exciting away win over Burnley) in which to think about Tottenham Hotspur’s summer of change and what it means for the season going forward. This particular transfer window is one that has and will continue to divide opinion — Ange Postecoglou has ushered in the most significant tactical and systemic shift in the squad since Mauricio Pochettino, but it happened at the cost of Harry Kane, who left the club for Bayern Munich.
I asked the masthead for a couple of paragraphs on Spurs’ window and their evaluations, and to assign an American-style letter grade (A-F, with +/-). Here are our responses. Feel free to put yours in the comments.
I’m really torn about this window. James Maddison’s £40m signing looks to be one of the best bargains of the window, and Spurs got him in early before the Saudi Arabian cash influx and resulting market insanity. Tottenham also looked outside of the box for Guglielmo Vicario and Micky van de Ven, both of whom look like shrewd acquisitions under Ange Postecoglou. Spurs made a couple of signings for the future by adding Alejo Veliz and Ash Phillips. The club made Pedro Porro and Dejan Kulusevski permanent, and Ange was able to resurrect the career of Giovani Lo Celso. And all of that is background to the club selling Harry Kane to Bayern Munich for nearly £100m, a move that probably needed to happen, even if some Spurs fans will argue that it came about due to years of club mismanagement and underperformance.
All that feels mostly good, and yet I can’t help but also feel like the internal processes that led to this window are still screwed up. There’s a stated focus on data analytics (good!), but still no director of football to implement signings (bad!). I find it understandable that the club found it tough to offload unwanted players when those same players turned down several moves away, but the late focus on purchasing homegrown players and “selling before we buy” feels exasperating when a foreign roster spot was taken up by an opportunistic move for Manor Solomon. Brennan Johnson might turn out to be a perfect fit for Spurs, but he sure doesn’t look like one based on every publicly available stat known to us. And there are still major holes in the side, particularly attacking and defensive depth (striker!), that could have been filled by better players with advanced planning and foresight. At least they didn’t accidentally go over the foreign loan limit this summer.
It’s a project. These things take time, and the window might be viewed differently with the benefit of hindsight. I get all that and am fully prepared to hold my hand up and say I was wrong if Big Ange can magick Solomon and Johnson into outstanding players in his system and the club can avoid significant injuries. The biggest and best changes thus far have been in how Ange has adapted Conte’s group of misfit toys along with Fabio Paratici’s recent additions like Destiny Udogie into his progressive tactics and made them work, and the football has been exciting and fun. But losing Kane was a lot and I’m not convinced enough was done. At present this window feels like Spurs hit a single and are trying to convince everyone that’s it’s really a triple.
This summer was really the time to see the oft-referenced “painful rebuild” take shape, and take shape it did, as the window started with a hiss and a roar. Spurs worked through their transfer process well to secure a much-needed new keeper in Guglielmo Vicario, and the signings of James Maddison and Mickey Van de Ven have proven to be absolutely phenomenal business. SOME in the masthead had some doubts around Maddison’s fit (not naming names), but I’m going to blow my own trumpet here as one who truly believed he would absolutely set our side alight. Harry Winks to Leicester was also an early sign that Spurs indeed were committed to a squad refresh, and Levy did a phenomenal job at extracting an exorbitant fee for Harry Kane, who was likely to leave on a free (potentially to direct rivals) at the end of the 23/24 season. If I was to rank the window at this point, it would get an A.
Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. Attacking reinforcements, ideally with elite potential, were really needed in the wake of Kane’s departure, and though Solomon’s performance against Burnley showed promise, he seemed a strange signing at the time, made even stranger when it became clear the Tottenham hierarchy were deeply concerned about homegrown numbers. This then limited Spurs’ pool of targets, and they shifted their focus to Brennan Johnson, a player who has never looked more than decent at the Championship level, which seemed bizarre (though it’s possible there’s potential there). Add to this the fact that once more, for yet another window, Spurs utterly floundered in attempting to offload surplus players, and that the fourth center back option appears to be a guy just outside of high school, then there’s still a lot of cause for concern as we look to continue to build the squad. With that said: In Ange We Trust.
Navigating a Tottenham Hotspur transfer window is never easy, and this year was an extra bit of stress with the Harry Kane saga involving Bayern Munich. Of course, it is sad to see him leave knowing he’s not up front in Ange Postecoglou’s system but £100m is a good deal considering his age and contract.
I believe Spurs addressed the biggest needs with the squad, in the likes of James Maddison, Micky van de Van, Guglielmo Vicario, and giving Ange his No. 1 target in Brennan Johnson. Yes, it is early but the three mentioned have played integral parts in the hot start to the season for Spurs. There are some players that need to be moving on, and that could come via contract termination or a January transfer window. But, for now, Ange has the players he trusts to deliver and it has shown thus far.
Have you ever not finished an assignment but had to submit it anyways? That’s what this window feels like. I’d say the window was successful in bringing players that complement the integration of Destiny Udogie, Yves Bissouma and Pape Mate Sarr into the squad. James Maddison will be the signing of the season, but we know Spurs failed to bring in the additional centreback Ange Postecoglou wanted. Manor Solomon looks promising enough to compete for a starting spot regularly.
I’m most impressed at how only one window was needed to significantly make this squad younger, which is remarkable considering the lack of players sold. Harry Winks will always live in my heart.