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Tottenham Hotspur are finally shaking off their tag as English football’s nearly men, as an incredible new stadium and a place in the Champions League semi-finals cement their status as one of Europe’s elite clubs.
In Mauricio Pochettino they have one of the world’s most respected managers, and in Harry Kane they have arguably the best No. 9 in the game.
The club are determined not to let this moment pass them by. It’s an opportunity to show they belong alongside Manchester City and Liverpool as genuine title contenders, not “bottlers,” as they have so frequently been labelled for missing out on European positions, silverware or simply bragging rights with local rivals Arsenal over the years.
They have exceeded expectations this season, particularly after not signing a player since January 2018.
Yet chairman Daniel Levy is willing to spend money again, and Pochettino has begun to outline how he sees the required next steps if the club are to progress.
Here’s a rundown of the factors that will determine how they can build on a fantastic season.
Depth to the Squad
This will be the most important transfer window Pochettino has ever been involved in, and his aim is to bring in five players.
The thinking process is understood to be that he wants more pressure on his starting XI as well as better options for when injuries and suspensions take hold.
It is expected that he will target a full-back, centre-back, two midfield players and one forward. The club are protecting their list of targets closely so as not to be dragged into early bidding wars, but sources have told B/R of some of the players who have caught the eye this season.
Maxi Gomez, the 22-year-old front man from Celta Vigo, has been scouted heavily and could provide a great alternative to Harry Kane in attack.
They have also been tracking the form and suitability of midfielders Carlos Soler from Valencia and Donny van de Beek of Ajax. Jack Grealish is on the radar too, but they will wait to see how Aston Villa fare in the Championship play-offs before deciding whether to pursue him.
Fulham‘s Ryan Sessegnon has been a long-term target, and they will once again touch base with the west Londoners over his availability in hope a deal can be struck for less than £30 million.
The Transfer War Chest
Levy is likely to back Pochettino in the summer market to the tune of around £150 million, according to sources close to the club.
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He is confident that the decision to stay away from deals over the past two windows has given the club time to accurately assess what is needed to move them forward, and to identify suitable targets.
It is thought that Levy is keen to sign players who will immediately impact the first team rather than those with potential.
As a result of the transfer pot, one player who has dropped down their priority list is Wilfried Zaha. They have monitored him for the past two years but, even though he will become available this summer, they will not come close to meeting Crystal Palace‘s £80 million valuation.
Pochettino is committing himself to the club and expects his key men to do the same. His main concern is over Christian Eriksen, who could move on at the end of the season.
After the Danish midfielder‘s match-winning goal against Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday, Pochettino declared he and the club were “open” to discussing a new deal—which is due to expire in 2020. Talks are going to centre around a pay rise, and Pochettino will also assure him that big names will be arriving at the club to ensure they compete at the very top of the game.
Manchester United are willing to beat any financial offer he gets from Spurs, though, while Real Madrid are keen too. There is expectation among key figures at Tottenham that Eriksen will stay for one more season at least.
It’s all very nice signing players, but Pochettino has to trim his squad this summer too.
Eriksen is a player Pochettino would not want to sell, but there are others who could help raise additional funds and the boss has begun to advise the board on which players are not part of his long-term plans.
Toby Alderweireld is almost certain to leave, with a £25 million release clause kicking in this summer on the back of a 12-month contract extension he signed last year. Manchester United are favourites to sign him.
Away from that, the most high-profile casualty could be Kieran Trippier. Spurs are believed to be open to offers in the region of £40 million for the right-back, with United, Napoli and Atletico Madrid all linked.
Additionally, the futures of Danny Rose, Serge Aurier and Victor Wanyama are also being weighed up by the boss.
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will move on if a suitable offer arrives, while there is also extreme doubt, unsurprisingly, about whether Vincent Janssen will be a Spurs player much longer despite him making his first appearance for the club since August 2017 on Tuesday.
Raise the Ambition
The aim of all these factors is to continue pushing forward. The fact that they have even been mentioned in this season’s title race is admirable, given their lack of spending, but next season is the time to actually make their challenge.
It will not be easy, but with a strong squad already in place and an incredible new home set to become their fortress, sources insist Tottenham chairman Levy and boss Pochettino are preparing for the first season in which they will genuinely set out in pursuit of the Premier League title.
This season’s Champions League run has given the players an idea of just how far they have closed the gap on the very best sides. Now, the plan is to shake off that tag of nearly men and show that this club really do mean business.