Opinion: The fundamental problems with Tottenham’s transfer policy

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Daniel Levy
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For many years now, Spurs fans have questioned multiple business decisions made by Daniel Levy when it comes to transfers.

We have often gone for the cheaper solutions so I wanted to look back in hindsight at who else was on the market when we made some of our budget signings over the last few seasons.

2015/16 – Kevin Wimmer

Kevin Wimmer signed for Spurs for £5.4m from FC Koln in the summer of 2015, touted as a centre-back for the future. The 22-year-old had shown a lot of promise in Germany but failed to ignite for the Lilywhites, eventually moving to Stoke for £18 million, after making just 31 appearances.

That same summer, two young, English centre-backs signed for the two Merseyside clubs. Everton signed Mason Holgate from Barnsley for £1.25m after witnessing the youngster go from strength to strength.

Even more depressing in hindsight is the signing of Joe Gomez; the young centre-back signing for Liverpool for £3.5m. Although Gomez had yet to prove his capabilities in the European top-flight, he had proved himself at Charlton, coming through their youth system into their first team before being snapped up by the Reds.

Both of these signings say a lot about our scouting departments. On far too many occasions, we have brought in young players that have often amounted to less than their touted potential. 

Both Gomez and Holgate have been involved heavily in their respective clubs over the last few years, with Gomez in particular standing out enough to make 11 appearances for the England national side since joining Liverpool. 

2016/17 – Moussa Sissoko

Spurs signed the French international Moussa Sissoko from Newcastle for £31.5m in 2016, having beaten Everton in the race.

With all due respect to Everton, this exact instance is one of the key problems with our transfer policy. We rivalled Everton, who at the time were floundering in the mid-table whilst we were challenging the likes of Leicester and Chelsea for League titles and, in my opinion, overpaid as a consequence.

We settled for Sissoko when instead we could have rivalled Manchester City for Ilkay Gundogan’s signature; the German who signed for City from Borussia Dortmund for around £20m – far less than we eventually paid for Sissoko.

By comparison, Gundogan has gone on to make 210 appearances for City, scoring 39 goals alongside 27 assists from midfield, resulting in a market valuation of £36 million (TransferMarkt).

Sissoko has made a similar 202 appearances, but has only scored 5 goals with 16 assists, leaving his market value at £11.5 million – just a third of the £31.5m we paid for him! (TransferMarkt)

Perhaps more frustrating is the fact that in the same window, Liverpool signed the Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle for £25m. He has since gone on to score pivotal goals for Liverpool in Champions League semi-finals and played a major role in their Premier League winning season.

So of the three central-midfielders we could have signed in 2016, we signed Moussa Sissoko, who is now easily the lowest valued of the three.

2019/20 – Gedson Fernandes

Before I get into this one, let’s clear up the situation around the transfer of Gedson. He was brought in from Benfica on an 18-month loan, with an option to buy for £43m.

Although it is true we didn’t pay for him in the end (probably after realising the valuation of the youngster was sky-high) and we opted to send him back to Portugal.

That being said, it is feasible that the funds required to sign Fernandes would have been accessible if desired, meaning we would have spent £42 million on him this summer.

Perhaps the most bitter pill to swallow in the whole of this article is the following. In the same window, January 2019, Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes from Sporting for £47m (rising with bonuses).

The bitter part of that signing is that we were also interested in signing Bruno, but ruined our chances of signing him by adding ludicrous add-ons to our initial £45 million Euro offer, including bonuses if we won both the Premier League and Champions League!

Since that point, Fernandes has absolutely shone at United, scoring 40 goals in 80 appearances and almost single-handedly helping them get second place in the Premier League this season, seeing his estimated market value sky-rocket up to £81m. (TransferMarkt)

In a nutshell, these three instances over the last seven years are what I consider to be the three most fundamental problems with our transfer business. 

1 – We have a sub-par scouting system that doesn’t look for fundamental potential in a player, instead looking for young players who we can get at a bargain price to sell on for profit.

2 – We overlook good players in favour of mediocre ones.

3 – We bargain with teams when we should instead see the true value of a player, just as teams like Liverpool, Man City and Man United do.

Perhaps Mr Levy should look at these instances, and see that it is time to start offering competitive transfer fees for top quality players, instead of low-balling clubs with insulting offers.

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