An anxious 516 days after the arrival of Lucas Moura, Tottenham have finally re-entered the transfer market. Not once, but twice.
On Tuesday, the north Londoners confirmed Jack Clarke would be joining from Leeds United. Within hours, they also announced the signing of Tanguy Ndombele in a club record fee which could rise to £62.8million.
Daniel Levy’s caution in the last two windows has attracted criticism from some quarters, but when the right opportunities have arisen, he has now backed Mauricio Pochettino all the way.
The Frenchman is considered by many to be the best young midfielder in the world. The 22-year-old caught the eye of Europe’s top sides with his Champions League performances for Lyon, including against Manchester City. That is of particular significance for the Lilywhites, who have rarely been able to beat the elite clubs to a player who is in such high demand.
Ndombele has been compared to Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. As far as Spurs are concerned, the player he needs to resemble most is Mousa Dembele, who left for China in January. The Belgian has been a huge loss despite, by his own admission, his struggles to keep up with the pace of Premier League football in his last couple of seasons.
His replacement is very similar to him in a number of ways, one of the few midfielders Pochettino has who is both powerful and skilful, can drive forward but also play the ball out.
The 18-year-old will immediately return to Leeds United on loan – itself a break from Tottenham’s usual policy regarding youngsters. Under normal circumstances, if Pochettino believes they are good enough, they will be in and around the first team squad. If not, they can leave permanently.
The difference, on this occasion, may be the presence of the Argentine’s ‘football father’ - as he refers to him - Marcelo Bielsa, at Elland Road. His compatriot has such a long-established reputation for developing teenagers, including Pochettino himself, that he is among the few who the Spurs manager trusts to nurture Clarke in the coming campaign.
Long-term, the forward is another option who can play behind Harry Kane. Admittedly, 20 of his 24 appearances in the Championship last term came off the bench.
Danny Rose hinted that he may well be moved on as the club hierarchy want to freshen up the squad, which would make bringing in a new left-back a priority. Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon did not always impress quite as much as was expected during his debut season in the top flight, but he wasn’t helped by his hapless defensive team-mates. His adeptness playing as a wing-back would also make him perfect for Pochettino’s favoured formation.
Complicating matters is the fact that Tottenham are also keen on acquiring his brother Steven. Whereas the Whites are resigned to losing the more famous twin, they are extremely reluctant to lose both.
Meanwhile, talk surrounding Giovani Lo Celso has died down considerably but the Real Betis midfielder, who is also being pursued by Manchester United, remains a target.
Given what Pochettino was able to achieve in the 2018/19 campaign – another top four finish and an epic journey to the Champions League final - without making any additions at all, Tottenham’s rivals will be forced to sit up and take notice following their latest statements of intent.