Tottenham Hotspur are expected to be active participants in the summer transfer window as they look to give their new head coach what he needs
Tottenham Hotspur are set to embark on a busy summer transfer window to shape their squad to fit Ange Postecoglou’s needs and that means some changes in attack.
Spurs hired the 57-year-old Australian this month and he arrives with a very specific style of play, utilising fast and furious possession football underpinned by pressing high up the pitch to win the ball back quickly. His favoured 4-3-3 system at clubs will require Tottenham to make a string of changes to a squad that was built for different managers with different philosophies and most recently a back three with wing-backs with Antonio Conte.
football.london takes a look at what is needed at Spurs and what the plans are within the club to overhaul the squad for Postecoglou. We’ll focus on the midfield and attack today, while the second part tomorrow will delve into the defensive end of the pitch and the search for a successor to Hugo Lloris and new centre-backs, as well as exits.
When it comes to Tottenham’s midfield and attack, the two priorities this summer are understood to be a new attacking midfielder for the centre of the pitch as well as a winger to operate further up the flank.The Postecoglou midfield three often operates with one number six pivot player who collects the ball from the defence and sprays it around the pitch and then two number eights who will operate in box-to-box roles and look to race up to support the centre forward at any opportunity.
Spurs have plenty of players who can fulfil the pivot role but fewer who can operate in the two more offensive positions. Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma can operate in either of the three midfield positions in a Postecoglou system while Oliver Skipp can sit in the deeper anchor role.
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Postecoglou is expected to make a decision on the future of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who despite his increased attacking output last season is not as natural a fit for either midfield role. Bayern Munich are understood to have some interest in bringing the Denmark international back to the Bundesliga if Spurs and Hojbjerg do decide to part ways.Young midfielder Pape Matar Sarr has been developing steadily at the club and the new head coach will have a good look at the 20-year-old Senegal international during pre-season to see just how effective he can be in the number eight role.
Another youngster, 18-year-old midfielder Alfie Devine, could end up with a spot on Tottenham’s tour to Australia and Asia next month before a decision is made on whether he should now head out on loan to gain regular starts. The lack of European football at Spurs next season means minutes will be sparse for some squad players to impress.
Postecoglou approved the £25.6m signing of Dejan Kulusevski on a permanent deal from Juventus this week and the 23-year-old Swede is another who could be converted into the number eight role if required.
The new Tottenham head coach also switches up his formation to a 4-2-3-1 system at times and football.london understands Spurs are looking to sign someone who can come in and offer a versatile option for both systems. That is why they are involved in the picture with Newcastle to acquire James Maddison from Leicester City.
The 26-year-old can play in a range of roles in a midfield three, the centre of a three behind a striker in a 4-2-3-1 or on the right of a front three.
In the 2021/22 season Maddison was directly involved in 30 goals for the Foxes with 18 goals and 12 assists, while in his last injury-fragmented campaign, within a struggling relegated side, he still managed 10 goals and nine assists in 32 matches.
Postecoglou is understood to like Maddison and both men also happen to be represented by the same agency, CAA Base, who have a growing presence at Spurs with key players in the first team such as Son Heung-min, Richarlison and Pedro Porro and also many of the academy’s most talented youngsters, including Alfie Devine, Dane Scarlett and Jamie Donley.
Among other targets, and although a more inexperienced one, football.london understands Tottenham have asked to be kept apprised of the situation with Bristol City starlet Alex Scott, who turns 20 this summer. The Championship club are believed to want a fee in the region of £20m for the young central midfielder, who has two years left on his contract. Spurs are not the only Premier League club looking at Scott, who can also play on the right of midfield, with other sides in the English top flight and in Europe eyeing up the England U20 starlet.
In terms of exits, Postecoglou is expected to take a good look first at Tanguy Ndombele before making a decision on the Frenchman, who has two years left on his contract. Both Napoli, where he was on loan, and Fenerbahce among others have shown interest in the 26-year-old for next season but Spurs are at this point likely to struggle to get anywhere near even half the £60m-plus deal all in they agreed for Ndombele in 2019 from Lyon.
There has always been a hope within Tottenham that Ndombele will eventually repay their faith in him and he would fit a couple of roles with Postecoglou’s midfield. However, to do so he would need to buy in entirely to the relentless high energy nature of the Australian’s football.Argentina international Giovani Lo Celso has interest from Aston Villa and Villarreal and is expected to head out of the club after his loan season with the latter, as is Harry Winks, who is nearing the final 12 months of his contract with Spurs following his campaign at Sampdoria. Academy product Harvey White, 21, could also be allowed to leave the club if there is not deemed to be a place for him next season in Postecoglou’s immediate plans.
football.london understands that Tottenham are also looking to bring in a young winger to complement their mostly experienced attacking stars in order to suitably fill the gap left in the squad by Lucas Moura’s exit as well as that of Arnaut Danjuma, after the club decided not to take up the option to sign the Netherlands international permanently. Ivan Perisic, who can also play in an advanced role, is being tipped to leave the club this summer as he enters the second half of his two-year deal.
Spurs will look to find a young winger who fits the Postecoglou requirements of having the ability to beat a man with pace or skill, be strong in the transition and able to press high up the pitch in order to regain possession.
Son and Kulusevski can both fit that role perfectly while Richarlison, more a natural centre-forward fit in the Postecoglou system, can also drift out wide if required. Postecoglou will look at Bryan Gil in pre-season after his Europa League-winning campaign back at Sevilla to see whether the talented 22-year-old can fully adapt to Premier League football as he does tick plenty of the boxes the new head coach is looking for and was one of the fittest players at the club during last summer’s pre-season camp in South Korea.
Although slightly older than the age range Tottenham are believed to be looking at for a new winger, they do hold a strong interest in Harvey Barnes, who managed 13 goals and three assists from the left wing for Leicester despite their struggles this season. In the last campaign the 25-year-old managed 25 goal involvements for the Foxes, with 11 goals and 14 assists in 47 matches.
Spurs have explored a double deal for both Barnes and Maddison although the club continue to claim that no such bid has been made yet. Tottenham are also looking at other young alternative wingers who can play on either flank.
Up front, there is less need for a new striker with the options currently available.
Tottenham continue to maintain that they have no intention of selling Harry Kane this summer, particularly to another Premier League club. He is currently expected to remain in north London next season in the absence of any foreign side showing the willingness at this stage to spend the major sum of money for a soon-to-be 30-year-old in the final year of his contract to even start to turn Spurs’ head.Spurs still hope to tie Kane down to a new deal at the club where he is the all-time top goalscorer and that Postecoglou’s football and a system that will provide the England captain with chances aplenty will see him enjoy the season ahead.
For Kane, if he does not put pen to paper then he would hold his future in his hands next summer as a free agent, with options aplenty which could even include the prospect of a move to link up with former manager Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea in another hammer blow to Tottenham fans’ hearts.
But for this season, with a lone striker role and Kane and Richarlison both able to play it, and Son also able to play centrally, the club appears to be covered in the position. Richarlison fits the thankless, constantly running and pressing role that Kyogo Furuhashi undertook for him at Celtic, bagging 34 goals in the process.
Kane has been near injury free in the past three seasons thanks to reducing his workload so is unlikely to play such a role, but Postecoglou has also tweaked his system elsewhere in his career to adapt to strikers who prefer to play in a deeper creative position.
Young strikers Troy Parrott and Dane Scarlett could also head out on the club’s summer tour as they look to impress the Australian and earn themselves first team minutes rather than another loan move next season.