Antonio Conte at Tottenham: Who will be the winners and losers in the Spurs squad as a new era begins?

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 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Tottenham supporters have been split down the middle by an enduring question over the last two years — is the squad actually any good?

One of Jose Mourinho’s last remaining superpowers was an ability to convince fans he was the last person to blame for below-par displays and he often presented an image of his Spurs squad as an uncoachable rabble.

Nuno Espirito Santo was less willing to criticise his players but their dour performances this season raised more questions about the quality and commitment of the Spurs squad.

But both Mourinho and Nuno had major shortcomings as modern managers, and now Spurs have one of the best coaches in the world in Antonio Conte, we should discover the true level of the squad.

Is Steven Bergwijn lacking a killer instinct or a promising winger whose confidence has been eradicated? Are Dele Alli and Harry Winks beyond redemption? Is Giovani Lo Celso, a top player for Argentina, fundamentally ill-suited to the Premier League? What is going on with Tanguy Ndombele?

The answer to all these questions should become clearer under Conte, who promises to give his players everything, provided they give him everything in return.

These Spurs players no longer have any excuses for under-performing or an under-pressure coach to hide behind.

Ahead of Conte’s first match in charge, Standard Sport assessed the Italian’s Spurs squad by position:

Goalkeepers

Hugo Lloris has enjoyed a renaissance and was one of the most consistent performers of the Mourinho and Nuno eras.

He remains a superb shot-stopper and dressing-room leader, although his distribution is some way short of the best in the League.

The 34-year-old is out of contract in the summer and in September told Standard Sport he was yet to receive an offer from Spurs.

A long-term succession plan is still needed but the arrival of Conte could persuade the World Cup winner to extend for a further year. Conte should know Pierluigi Gollini, who was Atalanta’s No1 last season. The Italian has not been entirely convincing but is a lively character and a decent back-up.

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Defenders

Spurs’s defenders look well-suited to Conte’s preferred back-three, with Ryan Sessegnon, Sergio Reguilon, Matt Doherty and Emerson Royal all likely to enjoy the additional freedom of playing at wing-back.

Ben Davies and Japhet Tanganga are good fits as wide centre-halves, while Conte is sure to build his back line around Cristian Romero and possibly the promising Joe Rodon.

Nonetheless, a new centre-half will be high on the head coach’s wish-list, with Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez having struggled for consistency and Davies also likely to be upgraded.

Doherty may lack the intensity and technical skill to be a success under the Italian.

Midfielders

The midfield is the toughest area to truly judge Spurs.

Lo Celso and Ndombele are expensive signings who have failed to meet expectations, but each has shown enough to suggest there is a quality player in there somewhere.

Winks and Dele were cast out under Mourinho and Nuno, raising questions about their attitudes, and it has been a long time since either was at his best.

It will be fascinating to see how the quartet progress under Conte.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s leadership qualities will appeal to the Italian, who will nonetheless be targeting a new midfield general.

Oliver Skipp may end up being one of the losers of Nuno’s sacking, although is clearly a promising young player.

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Attackers

In Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, Conte has inherited two superstars, but buying a back-up striker will be a priority for him.

Lucas Moura is well-liked by managers for his attitude and work-rate but could be upgraded.

The same is true of Bergwijn, although it will be interesting to see what he can do under a coach who puts more emphasis on structured attacks over individual brilliance.

Bryan Gil is very promising, although likes to play as an out-and-out left winger, so may have to adapt under Conte, whose usually uses wing-backs for width.

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