After three successive seasons of Champions League qualification for Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur, it was undeniable that as the club entered the 2018 summer transfer window, all associated with the Lilywhites knew that prior to Pochettino’s commitment to a new contract until 2023, the club were at a complex crossroads of ambition and restriction.
As Pochettino signed on the dotted lines with an extended contractual commitment, a sigh of relief was evident within the Spurs hierarchy and beyond. Players, pundits and supporters alike knew the value that their Argentinian genius brought to the table – with the club entering a new era in a new stadium, there were few more equipped candidates to take them to a new level of success – though for Pochettino, he was reportedly set to demand sizeable yet justified funds for the bolstering of his squad.
As we enter the final two weeks of the transfer window, Tottenham are yet to make a single new singing ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. Levy has a firm grasp on his transfer shaped dice in the Spurs boardroom, and evidently he’s not quite ready to roll them just yet.
Rumours have been rife as to who Spurs, Levy and Pochettino have been attempting to recruit for their maiden campaign at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium; Ryan Sessegnon, Anthony Martial, Jack Grealish, Wilfried Zaha – the aforementioned are class players, bordering on world-class, though Tottenham have signed none of them. Not a single player.
New contracts galore have been announced from the ivory towers of the Levy-led regime, though no new signings, and despite it being well documented that Spurs under Levy are a club who enjoy the final minutes of the window, there will be few Spurs fans acknowledging transfer-orientated achievement at this stage of the window. Spurs and Levy have fallen short, and with an exceedingly large contingent arriving back late from the World Cup coupled with four successive away games to commence their Premier League campaign, this will be a period of unprecedented difficulty for Pochettino and his squad to navigate.
Though ultimately, perhaps this is the issue facing Levy. He is aware his manager can navigate domestic and European hurdles without excessive spending, qualifying for the Champions League and increasing the value of fringe and core players in the process, so why would he, a notoriously shrewd spender and administrator of a financially ruthless regime, increase the clubs net spend for a disproportionate increase in achievement?
Levy is a business man of the highest accord, and Spurs spending £150m in an inflated market to qualify for the Champions League, when they are extremely likely to do so anyway, makes little to no business sense. This will be unquestionably infuriating to his manager, especially after he committed himself to the club with a new five year contract earlier this summer, but as the clock ticks down on 2018’s summer window, Spurs are entering a period of do or die – and it would appear the coffins in the realms of North London do not seem too unappealing to Levy.
With Aston Villa’s recent majority takeover from Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, the previously deemed necessity for Villa to sell Grealish on the cheap may well have diminished, whilst Palace’s £70m price-tag on Zaha is likely to be decreasing the possibility of a move to Spurs for the Ivorian. Levy will play ball to the very last minute on August 9th, though whether he achieves success will depend on factors outside of the Spurs boardroom given the minimal time he has left himself for Spurs to have a universally successful window.
Despite Spurs tying down numerous first-team stars to new contracts, including Son Heung-Min, Harry Kane and Erik Lamela, alongside the likes of Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies all set to be offered new, improved contracts, the club is in need of external impetus in their bid to truly become a European powerhouse.
The club have truly bridged the gap between what was deemed to be the English elite, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and the chasing pack: Spurs are now in the elite, and perhaps Levy simply must accept that where their competitors are signing exceptional players, such as Chelsea signing Jorginho for £50m, Liverpool bringing in Naby Keita, Fabinho, Shaqiri and Allison, City breaking their transfer record to sign Riyad Mahrez and United securing the signature of Fred for £52m, Spurs are falling short.
The clock is ticking, the dice will be slipping, and Levy knows he can’t hold on too much longer, but one huge roll is required in these final 11 days of 2018’s summer window. It’s been a high risk strategy for Spurs, with no new recruits, though should it continue and midnight strikes on August 9th, Levy’s final roll of the dice will have been snake eyes – and the true damage of such a disastrous window will be truly immeasurable until May 2019 for the North London outfit.
Written by Tom Newman.