For Tottenham Hotspur, the January transfer window can be considered an unqualified success. Years of prudent financial stewardship combined with a new head coach and recruitment team allowed Spurs to be both targeted and nimble to improve the squad, during a very challenging and abbreviated window.
Technical Director Johan Lange, who joined the club this fall, sat down to present an interview about his time at the club so far and to break down Spurs’ approach to transfers and recruitment. The video was posted on Spurs’ social media channels. It’s one of the first times we’ve seen Lange speak publicly about the club’s approach to recruitment, and it’s an illuminating listen. (Fitzie also linked to this video in the Hoddle this morning, but it deserves its own post.)
“We see every transfer window as an opportunity to progress and build the squad in the direction we want to take it… It’s not a one or two window job but the Club has taken some very important steps”— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 8, 2024
Technical Director Johan Lange reflects after the January transfer window ▶️ pic.twitter.com/FDav7gHJR5
It’s also nine minutes long and who’s got time to listen to all that? (I’m happy for u tho. Or sorry that happened.) So let’s take a look at some of Lange’s excerpted comments and the main points he’s making. And if you’ve got the time, you should watch the full video.
Positive start and club environment
Lange said that he’s been very happy with his time at Spurs thus far, citing his familiarity with the league and a welcoming atmosphere within the club. He emphasized the great energy across various levels, including the first team, women’s team, and academy, indicating a collective belief in creating a successful chapter for the football club.
“There’s a great energy around the training ground, from the first team level, around the women’s team, in the academy as well. We all believe that we’re writing, hopefully, the first paragraph of what would be a very successful chapter for the football club.”
January transfer window and recruitment
Lange noted an alignment with the rest of the club hierarchy with regards to the transfer market to progress and strengthen the squad. He specifically referenced the club’s efforts to address specific needs, such as reinforcing the center-back position and adding an offensive player, with the successful acquisition of Timo Werner and Radu Dragusin, and hinting that Dragusin’s young age means his main impact on the squad is yet to come.
“Firstly and very importantly, we arrived into the January market completely aligned, the chairman, Ange [Postecoglou] and Scott [Munn] and myself. We see every transfer window as an opportunity to progress and to build the squad in the direction we want to take it. We should always aim to be stronger after the window and before it opens. But having said that, to build the squad and alignment with a style of play and methodology, that is not a one or two-window job.
“But the club has taken some very important steps in the last six, seven months. We in particular needed to see if we could strengthen the squad at the centre-back position, especially after Sanchez was sold after our window shut in the summer. And similar in the other end of the pitch, which certainly be away for several weeks and long term injuries to [Ivan] Perisic and Manor [Solomon]. It was quite important to see if we could add an offensive player and of course very pleasing to see that we managed to get two new players in the building quite early on.
“We have seen Radu [Dragusin] being very strong defensively for Genoa over a long period. He has the speed, he’s very strong 1-v-1, but he’s just turned 22. He’s still a very young player with a lot of growth for the future. Again, he has settled in well to the club, but there is so much more to come for him in the years to come.”
Young talent and recruitment
Lange was asked about the club’s clear intent to recruit talent on the cusp of breaking through to first team football, and in particular about 18-year old Lucas Bergvall who Tottenham dramatically pipped to his signing over Barcelona. It’s clear from Lange’s face how excited he is about Bergvall’s summer signing.
“First of all, we want to be a destination for the best young talent out there. That can be talent coming into our academy in the foundation phase or later and being developed and coming through the academy or in this case with Lucas, it can be a player that we decide to try to see if we can buy from a club abroad and in this case, Djurgårdens. Lucas is a very mature player, despite him just turning 18. He’s a box-to-box midfielder, very good in possession, he’s been able to control the game and the same out of possession and has a great work range.
“And then for his age, he’s mature as a person. And on top of that, he also has a very good family and support network around him. So he has a great potential. He will join in the summer, I’ve been part of the first team squad, but then it’s for him just to adapt to this new environment and then take things step by step.
“So the scouting team and myself are out watching players. We know exactly what we’re looking for. We are completely aligned as a club, how we want to build a squad over the coming years, which is hugely important. But this is not only about Ange or myself. This is a club strategy. This is club alignment and Ange and I have been brought in in different roles to execute this.”
Acquiring young talent is one thing — developing it is another. Acknowledging the challenging transition for young players to the Premier League, Lange discussed Spurs’ strategy of sending players out on loan to good environments, and particularly to the Championship. He also emphasized the club’s belief in young players and the rewarding experience of seeing them grow.
“I think when you are a young player, and if you’re playing in the academy or at [U21] level, the step to the Premier League, especially the top end of the Premier League is a massive step. So going out on loan, it is a very important step for most young players. And for us as a club, it’s definitely something that we have tried in this January window here. So okay, how can we map out good clubs, good environments for our young players to keep progressing, keep developing, playing regular football at a good level?
“And I’m very pleased that after this January window here of short, we have three players [Alfie Devine & Ash Phillips at Plymouth Argyle, Japhet Tanganga at Millwall] now playing regularly in the championship, which we know is a league that every year develops players who transition into the Premier League. So I think that’s a positive step. And that’s hopefully something that we’ll see even more in the future.
“We believe in young players, you know, we believe in giving young players an opportunity and to see them grow at different environments. Of course, it’s very rewarding for everyone at the club. We’re monitoring them every week. When you’re building that infrastructure for club, it’s so important that they are monitoring on a weekly basis, where they’re going to live games, and receiving all the information, training data, game data each week. So they’re not here physically at the moment, but they’re very much part of the club and in our minds and work every day.”