August 03, 2022

Summer 2022: A summer of the overhaul for Tottenham that should send fans, and opposition frenetic

By Sen Nguyen

For the fourth consecutive season, Tottenham Hotspur is spending lavishly on incoming players even though the summer transfer window of the 2022/2023 season has only run a third of its course. This trend is a stark contrast to the previous ten seasons where the team’s season-wide net spend on transfers never exceeded €30 million, according to Transfermarkt.

Of the 20 players who came in over the previous three seasons, only five are bound to remain at Tottenham this summer: Ryan Sessegnon, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur, Dejan Kulusevski, Cristian Romero. For the players that have already left, Steven Bergwijn recently returned to the Eredivisie with Ajax Amsterdam while Jack Clarke is off to Sunderland, Joe Hart left for Celtic, while Gedson Fernandes, Carlos Vinicius, Gareth Bale, and Pierluigi Gollini returned to respective parent clubs.

The ‘retention’ rate might improve this summer, the pull being Antonio Conte, a proven manager brought in to satiate the current “win now” mentality at the club, and Fabio Paratici, a well-connected Director of Football. What have they been working on for the Lilywhites?

The business so far

Spurs kicked off business in this transfer window on May 31 when they announced the signing of Ivan Perišić and then Fraser Forster just over a week later, both on free transfers. Perišić, the first over-30 outfield signing for Tottenham since the 32-year-old Fernando Llorente in 2017, brings a wealth of experience and guidance to the predominant players on the left flank, Ryan Sessegnon and Sergio Reguilón.

On 17 June, the Lilywhites supplemented the midfield of Højbjerg, Bentancur, and Oliver Skipp with depth and quality in the form of Yves Bissouma, a midfielder from Brighton Hove and Albion, at a reported fee of almost €30 million. The first paid signing of the window with an astounding defensive attributes. Last season’s per 90 statistics from Fbref show that Bissouma is within the top 15% of all Premier League midfielders for tackles made in general (3.11), tackles won (2.13), those made in the defensive third (1.53) and the midfield third (1.45).

Also, per 90, the midfield powerhouse is in the top 10% for the percentage of dribblers tackled (54.5%), percentage of successful pressures (35.9%), interceptions (2.34) and also for tackles and interceptions combined (5.46). In terms of passing, the Malian midfielder is within the top 10% for pass completion rate (89.7%) and completion rate of passes between 15 and 30 yards (93%).

The fourth signing was a blockbuster: A jaw-dropping £50 million initial fee for Brazilian forward Richarlison, a fee that may rise to £60 million. Despite only contributing to 15 goals for a struggling Everton side in 2021/2022 last season, Richarlison suits the physicality demanded by Conte’s system. Richarlison’s willingness to be the first line of defence is signified by his defensive statistics over the last season. Compared to other forwards, he averaged 21.05 pressures (86th percentile), 1.71 blocks (93rd percentile), and 2.18 tackles plus interceptions (89th percentile), per 90. Through relentless effort, Richarlison recovered an average of 6.60 loose balls per 90, good enough for the 94th percentile.

In attack, the Brazilian also offers versatility as he can play in any of the front three positions. He also knows how to wreak havoc on the opposition’s defence, drawing an average of 2.96 fouls per 90, putting him in the top 6% of all forwards. With the predominant front, three of Kane-Son-Kulusevski at Tottenham look set in place, and Richarlison offers the much-needed quality rotation for a busy season ahead.

The final and most recent signing was Clément Lenglet. The French defender came on a loan, without a buy option, off an underwhelming campaign with FC Barcelona. In all competitions, Lenglet only started 11 out of the 27 appearances he made for the club in the 2021/2022 season. While it is tough to predict how a player adjusts to the asperity of the Premier League, Lenglet’s proficiency on and off the ball can see him thrive as a left-sided centre-back, a position anchored by Ben Davies since Conte was appointed.

Outgoing transfers, a work in progress

One of the two outgoing transfers for Spurs is Bergwijn to Ajax. The other deal was the academy product Cameron Carter-Vickers, a US international whose impressive loan to Celtic was made permanent for a fee of €7 million. Even with Clarke’s departure to Sunderland, this progress is far from ideal, owing much to the disparity between home-grown and non-homegrown players at Tottenham.

In the Champions League, however, the following players will also be regarded as non-homegrown: Doherty (Irish-trained), Davies and Joe Rodon (Welsh-trained), Gil and Sarr (Under 21 but not yet registered at the club for an uninterrupted two seasons). The European competition also divides the homegrown players into four club-trained (Brandon Austin, Japhet Tanganga, Harry Winks, Skipp, Harry Kane) slots and four association-trained (Sessegnon and Forster).

To regard this transfer window a blistering success, Paratici will have to work as hard to facilitate player sales as he does player signings. Uncertainty looms over the future of Ndombele (a record-signing criticized for his determination); Lo Celso (a player who proved to be injury-prone for the Premier League); Sanchez, Doherty and Royal (players who did not live up to expectations); Winks, Tanganga, Reguilón and Lucas (players who recently fell down the pecking order).

Evermore signings to fulfil Tottenham’s, Conte’s and the fans’ ambitions

Conte and Paratici have been working to bolster spots in the squad. Now that the club has secured a solid midfield, a home-grown backup keeper, a quality left-sided centre-back, a prominent wing-back and a versatile forward, what other positions can they improve?

Priority is for the right flank where Royal and Doherty are the only options. The club has already been working on an addition: Djed Spence. If he does arrive, Spence will not only add to the youth ranks of Spurs but also fill the spot of a homegrown player.

Another two positions Spurs can improve upon are a backup striker and a central centre-back. For the former, the Lilywhites have versatile attackers who can fill in as a striker and youth prospects in Troy Parrott and Dane Scarlett. For the latter, England international has been a solid choice. However, the London club should acknowledge that quality from players natural in such positions can further their progress in challenging for trophies.

With previous target Wout Weghorst already off to Besiktas, Spurs can opt for Stuttgart striker Sasa Kaladjzic, an Austrian international who scored six and assisted two goals in 15 Bundesliga appearances in 2021/2022. At the back, Alessandro Bastoni seems set to stay at Inter Milan as Milan Skriniar is close to joining Paris Saint-Germain. Therefore, Tottenham may pursue AS Roma’s Roger Ibanez. London, or leverage a deal for Paul Torres with Lo Celso, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with the Spanish outfit.

*All statistics from Fbref are from the performances in the respective domestic leagues 2021/2022 season unless stated otherwise.

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