Opinion: How the World Cup could impact Spurs this summer and beyond

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Premier League
(Photo by Visionhaus)

The 2022/2023 season is shaping up to be an intriguing one for Tottenham as they have started their business early, signing five players before mid-July. 

It has likely to have become apparent to Spurs fans that despite a large number of arrivals already being confirmed there hasn’t been the usual ‘one in one out’ transfer policy so far this summer; where incomings would usually be completed or announced shortly after the announcement of a departure.

On-loan goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, winger Steven Bergwijn, centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers, and young Jack Clarke has been the only significant first-team departure so far this summer.

Even though there will most definitely be further sales and loans this summer with players like Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, and Sergio Reguilon being left out of the pre-season tour in Korea.

The exit door at Spurs certainly won’t be gathering dust, and it signals a change in transfer strategy at the club, embodying the effect the upcoming and unique ‘winter World Cup’ will have on Tottenham’s squad.

It’s crucial when discussing the World Cup in Qatar to understand the change that it has caused with regards to the Premier League season’s schedule.

This World Cup will be the shortest one that has ever run and will have 64 games crammed into only 27 days (from November the 21st to December the 18th).

To accommodate for this international tournament being held in the middle of the season, the Premier League will press pause on its campaign in the sixteenth match week meaning that Tottenham’s last game before the break will be at home to Leeds on the 12th of November, leaving a tight turnaround of just nine days for the players.

The tournament in Qatar will come to a close on the 18th of December, leaving only eight days for players participating in the final to return to England and play in the Premier League’s traditional boxing day matches: Tottenham will face Brentford away.

With Tottenham being in four competitions this season, the games will be coming thick and fast for the players, likely causing them to feel more strain on their bodies than ever before.

So expect plenty of frustrating injuries to occur; especially when you consider that all eleven players who played in Spurs’ closing fixture against Norwich are all in contention to be playing in the World Cup.

Therefore, to compete on all fronts, Spurs’ squad will have to be deeper than ever and will have to contain multiple high-quality players in each position to allow Antonio Conte to start giving players rests without feeling that the team’s performance would heavily suffer as a result of doing so.

This was something the Italian didn’t have the ability to do last season as four academy players were named on the bench for the closing games of the season as a result of a few injuries amongst the squad, a level of depth which would just not be acceptable to have next season.

In tandem with the idea of squad depth being more vital than ever is the new rules being implemented for next season, one of which is that teams will now be granted five substitutions per match that they can make within three occasions (BBC).

The rule will give the bigger clubs and larger, higher-quality squads an advantage as they will have the ability to bring on fresh, top-quality players from their bench in order to either see a game out, salvage a point or go for a win.

As it’s widely known, small margins over a season often surmount into big rewards; examples of that can be found in last season’s campaign as Liverpool fell short of the title by a single point and Tottenham themselves clinched top four by only two points.

Already we are seeing signs of intent on the transfer market from Tottenham in the form of signing Everton forward, Richarlison, who is a player that Tottenham wouldn’t usually go for as the team are already very strong up front.

This signing shows the awareness from Spurs that they will have to boast immense strength and depth if they wish to achieve their capabilities under Antonio Conte.

So, Spurs are clearly going for strength in depth in this transfer window and that’s why they are expected to spend ‘the bulk of the £150m cash injection they received from majority shareholders ENIC Sports Inc about a month ago (Alasdair Gold).

Although Spurs would ideally go for the targets they desire and secure the signings quickly, it’s never that easy; especially when so many players in question will be conscious of their spot for the Qatar World Cup.

The effect that the World Cup will have on the transfer window is going to be significant, but it can be positive as much as it can be negative.

For example, current Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks may have been reluctant to leave N17 as he’s been at the club for many years now; but the 26-year-old will now be attracted by the prospect of earning his space back in the England squad.

Therefore it may help for a move to occur more smoothly and at a faster pace as all parties work towards the completion of a deal.

The idea of a player wanting to leave a club for better chances of a spot on their national team’s plane to Qatar could help Tottenham in their purchases as well as their departures.

For example, a player may see regular minutes at Tottenham in the Premier League as a great chance to showcase their skills at the highest level – this staking a claim for a World Cup starting berth. Look at Richarlison, who will now get to play in the Champions League for the first time or Lenglet who has a chance to recover from a woeful year at Barca.

The World Cup is and always will be an exciting prospect for football fans and, now more than ever, the tournament will have an effect on the wider footballing world throughout the course of the summer and in the weeks following the tournament.

The good news for Tottenham is that this will be an opportunity for them – an opportunity that must be clinched over the summer, or face dire consequences.

Either way, one thing is for sure: this summer and next season should be one hell of a ride for fans of the Lilywhites.

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