Opinion: The painful Spurs rebuild – How much is done and what is left to do

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Back in May 2019, then Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino warned the club that a “painful” rebuilding job would be required to match the levels of the new stadium and training facilities.

At the time, he compared it to having “an amazing house but you need to put in the furniture.”

Fast forward to February 2021 and the close of the latest January window where Tottenham didn’t make any signings and struggled to sell/release any first-team players, apart from loaning Paulo Gazzaniga and ending Gedson Fernandes loan on deadline day.

So, it begs the question, how much of the painful rebuild has been done and how far have Tottenham got left to go? We will also look at players Tottenham could sign as part of the rebuild.

The summer window after the Champions League final defeat saw Tottenham bring in four new faces in the shape of Tanguy Ndombele, for a club-record transfer fee rising to £63 million, Giovani Lo Celso on loan (which was converted into a permanent deal the following January) and highly-rated youngsters Ryan Sessegnon and Jack Clarke.

Although this was a signal of intent to ‘put in the furniture’, it was obvious that Pochettino also wanted to sell some of the current crop of players who had perhaps gone stale at Tottenham and needed to be moved on.

From the squad that made the Champions League final, 15 out of the 23 players had been at the club for at least four years, with 10 of those starting.

In comparison, only two of their starting XI had been there for 4 years. This further highlighted Pochettino’s underlying thoughts that the current squad had gone stale and needed a total overhaul to match that of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, etc.

While, Tottenham haven’t struggled to sign new players under both Pochettino and now Mourinho, with the club bringing in 12 new players in the past 18 months, where they have struggled is selling players.

In those 18 months, Tottenham have only managed to sell/loan or release a handful of players from the 2018/2019 squad (Sold- Eriksen, Trippier, Wanyama, Loaned- Foyth, Gazzaniga and Released- Vorm and Vertonghen).

Whether this is down to the club not being able to find suitable buyers for these players or whether they are asking for too high a fee, especially in these financially scary times, we will never know. However, for this “painful rebuild” phase to be completed, more will have to leave.

Having watched the season unfold so far under Mourinho, it is clear that there are only a handful of players whom he trusts to play his style of football that has proven to be so successful over the years.

Players from the ‘Pochettino era’ such as Danny Rose, Dele, Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies, Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela have seen themselves out of favour with the new manager and should be sold in order for them to move on with their careers and to raise vital funds to complete the rebuild.

In addition, ageing players such as captain Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld should also be sold as part of the rebuild. At 34 and 31 respectively, they are not getting any younger and won’t be part of the club’s future for much longer.

While their experience is important, there are players at the club such as Harry Kane, Heung Min Son, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg who also have plenty of matchday experience.

Now selling the ‘old furniture’ is only half of Project Painful Rebuild. The other half is replacing the departures with players who are going to take Tottenham to the next level.

Tottenham’s transfer policy of late, on the whole, has been a mix of youth with big-game experience (Ndombele, Lo Celso, Bergwijn, Regulion) and more experienced players who have a history of winning trophies (Hart, Bale, Højbjerg) while also adding young talented players for the future (Rodon, Sessegnon and Clarke).

Bearing this in mind, a new goalkeeper will certainly be needed. With David De Gea firmly number 1 at Manchester United for the foreseeable future it wouldn’t be unheard of for Tottenham to sign Dean Henderson.

At only 23, he has at least 12 more years at the very top and having already been part of a successful Sheffield United defence that has clearly missed his presence this season.

He would be the perfect candidate to replace Lloris with Alfie Whiteman/Brandon Austin coming through as the back-up in the squad.

The main area where Tottenham should look to rebuild is to acquire two new centre backs in order to solidify what has been a very questionable defence – with youngsters like Rodon and Tanganga very much part of the rebuild.

Tottenham should look to sign players like Milan Skriniar of Inter Milan (who they came close to signing in the summer window) and Nordi Mukiele of RB Leipzig, both of whom will bring a wealth of experience in league and European football to the defence.

At only 25 and 23 years old respectively, they could also form a centre back partnership for many years.

With the signing of Matt Doherty in the summer seeming not going as planned, along with Serge Aurier being inconsistent, Tottenham could turn to a player they have followed closely in Max Aarons in order to cement the right-back position for the future.

With the potential departures of Sissoko and Winks, Tottenham will need to sign a central midfielder to replace them. They could look to go with a player with Premier League player who also shows plenty of promise.

Yves Bissouma and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, are two players who are hybrids of Winks and Sissoko, who can use their energy to get around the pitch, are strong in the tackle and also very comfortable on the ball.

Since the departure of Eriksen in January 2020, Tottenham have struggled for creativity. One player Tottenham could look to sign is Jack Grealish.

Having missed out on him back in the summer of 2018, he has gone on to become one of the most creative players in the Premier League.

He is obviously going to be wanted by the very best clubs in England but with the guarantee to start week in and week out and build his relationship on the pitch with Harry Kane, along with playing under Jose Mourinho, it could be a very tempting offer.

Marcel Sabitzer is another player Tottenham could look to sign. Nearing his prime years and the ability to play in multiple positions behind Harry Kane, he could be the perfect candidate to inject some creativity to the Tottenham team.

The back-up/partner to Harry Kane is probably the hardest part of the rebuild. Not since the days of Pavlyuchenko and co have Tottenham had a wealth of strikers to call upon.

With injuries becoming a regular occurrence for our talisman, a back-up/partner is becoming more needed by the year. With Carlos Vinicius showing glimpses since he joined of what he can do and having a year to acclimatise to the Premier League, he could be the long-term answer.

Should Tottenham want to look elsewhere Danny Ings would be available for a cut-price due to his contract situation and also has history of playing in a front two.

However, Tottenham may not need to look too far into the transfer market in order to complete the rebuild. Youth players such as Oliver Skipp, Ryan Sessegnon, Jack Clarke, Harvey White and Troy Parrott are gaining vital experience this season.

Players still at the club, such as Alfie Devine, Dennis Cirkin and Dane Scarlett could be ready to make the step up to regular first-team football next season should Jose Mourinho see fit.

By bringing through players from the academy, it will also free up some much needed foreign player spots in the rest of the squad.

So, in conclusion, the “painful rebuild” which Pochettino spoke about back in 2019 is still very much a work in progress despite the recent signings.

The progress of this rebuild is firmly dependent on selling the ‘old furniture’ at the club in order to bring in new players.

However, with the new crop of players coming through the club the rebuild isn’t far from completion and with it, the glory days will soon return to N17.

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