Tottenham must be creative and ruthless in transfer market with Antonio Conte’s future on the line

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

Antonio Conte’s future at Spurs feels inextricably linked to Tottenham’s “vision” and clout in the transfer market this summer — and managing director Fabio Paratici has been feverishly drawing up plans for the window.

Conte has hinted that to commit to Spurs for another season he needs assurances the club can build a squad capable of challenging at the top of the Premier League — but has acknowledged they will “have to be perfect” in the transfer market.

New signings will be crucial, but Paratici is conscious that offloading players in a timely manner and for the right price will be just as important to Spurs’ rebuild, particularly given their previous struggles to clear the decks.

Steven Bergwijn this week opened the door to a summer return to the Eredivisie, possibly with Ajax, but he is almost unique, in that he is one of the few squad players Spurs can be confident of selling for a significant fee, given his status as an established Netherlands international and eye-catching cameos this season.

Conte regards a number of other first-team players as surplus to requirements, but the majority of them will be much harder to move on than the Dutch winger.

Harry Winks is likely to push for a summer exit and first-team football elsewhere, with Conte understood to want a new midfielder in the Jorginho mould, but he would want to join a club where he has a chance of reviving his England career.

Spurs are also expected to listen to offers for Davinson Sanchez, Emerson Royal, Sergio Reguilon and Joe Rodon, although recouping what they paid for all the defenders may be a challenge.

Sanchez cost £42million, and both Emerson and Reguilon in excess of £20m, but all have been up and down in the Premier League, and would be more likely to return to the continent, where money is tighter.

Rodon was signed for £11m but has had little chance to increase his value, having been consistently overlooked by Conte and predecessors, despite an impressive attitude.

Giovani Lo Celso is expected to attract interest after helping Villarreal to the Champions League semi-final while on loan, but recouping the fee Spurs paid for the Argentine will be a challenge.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Tanguy Ndombele, who also cost £55m, is likely be harder to shift after mixed performances back on loan at his former club Lyon. Lucas Moura and Matt Doherty may also be free to leave, but are not far from the twilight of their careers and enjoy playing for Spurs.

Paratici, therefore, faces a delicate balancing act between clearing the decks and limiting the club’s losses in the market.

Recent history suggests the Italian is prepared to be ruthless, having resorted to a number of creative approaches to offload players already.

Last summer, Spurs paid off the final year of Serge Aurier’s contract after failing to find a buyer for the defender, while Dele Alli was allowed to join Everton in January on an initial free transfer, despite having two years remaining on his contract.

This new approach is a consequence of the pandemic and Paratici’s influence, plus harsh lessons learned.

Club-record signing Ndombele and Lo Celso were sent on loan for nominal fees, with no guarantees they would not be back in the summer.

This new approach is both a consequence of the post-pandemic landscape and Paratici’s influence, as well as the result of harsh lessons learned by the club, who have previously held on to unwanted players for far too long, disrupting the squad and, ultimately, costing them money.

For all the talk of Daniel Levy’s need to back Conte, it has gone relatively overlooked that the chairman’s willingness to loan out Lo Celso and Ndombele was actually a significant show of faith, given how much was spent on the midfield pair.

It will be intriguing to see if Levy is as willing to allow Paratici to be so ruthless en masse over the summer but, with few fringe players in as strong a position as Bergwijn, Spurs may have to get creative to ensure they can accelerate their rebuild.

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