Tottenham Hotspur and transfer spending a tall tale

Tottenham, Daniel Levy (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham, Daniel Levy (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) /

Daniel Levy and Tottenham Hotspur are marked as a team unwilling to spend but a net negative transfer spend since 2010 tells a different story.

Tottenham Hotspur will never be confused with PSG, Chelsea, or Manchester City and thus never have to worry about FIFA Financial Fair Play – if it existed – rather Spurs try to stay within a budget and transfer rationally.

However, since 2010 – while simultaneously building a new stadium – Spurs have had a net transfer spend of negative $150.56 million US Dollars, which might surprise some.

NOTE: all transfer statistics from Transfermrkt in US dollars.

Tottenham going for transfers

Tottenham Hotspur have had 12 seasons since 2010 in which to make transfers in and out of the club. In that time, Spurs have had more 150 player loans, some 60 player sales and have brought in 55 new players from outside the organization. That equates to about 4.5 new players a season with five going out the other way. The idea that Spurs sell to buy, is true, but those totals are not always even.

Since 2010, there have only been four seasons with a positive net transfer total for Spurs. The first was 2012, when only Scott Parker and Iago Falque were brought in but names like Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Alan Hutton, and Robbie Keane went out the door.

All told, nine players were sold – not including loans – and with only two coming in, Tottenham had a positive transfer balance of $38 million on the season. However, considering Spurs came into that season at nearly a negative $36 million transfer balance from the previous two seasons – Spurs had brought in Rafael van der Vaart, Sandro, Crouch, and Sebastien Bassong among others over the prior two years – having a big sum come back into the club, just sort of created some balance from those previous two seasons.

While not a positive balance then in 2011, Spurs only had a negative net of about a half-million dollars, despite bringing in eight players, which included Mousa Dembele and Hugo Lloris. However, with van der Vaart, Luka Modric, and Bassong among others being sold, the overall cost was essentially a wash.

That next season was the Bale bonanza and there is no need to go too deep there, other than to note that Spurs did manage to end with a nearly $14 million balance at the end of that summer; leaving Tottenham with a POSITIVE net balance on transfers of nearly $29 million from 2010 – 2014.

However, after 2014, things began to change a bit for Tottenham and really everyone else. First, transfer prices really started to go up, after Daniel Levy got so much money for Bale, people realized some teams would pay anything for the right player.

Additionally, on May 27, 2014, a new leader was brought in to manage the playing club and Mauricio Pochettino was appointed to guide Spurs’ first team. Spurs did have two more positive windows, 2016 with a +$18.24 million transfer balance and of course 2019 when no players were brought in and only Dembele was sold for a positive balance of $5.89 million. However, Pochettino was in charge for six total transfer seasons and the overall balance tells a much different story.

Spurs, Pochettino, and poor spending

Many seem to want to believe it was a lack of support that ultimately hurt Pochettino’s tenure with Tottenham Hotspur and pointing to the summer of 2019 and zero incoming transfers is exhibit A for those folks. However, when one steps back and looks at the big picture under Pochettino a much different story starts to unfold, as the other five windows with the Argentine as the gaffer were all big spending.

As noted, the only other positive transfer spend under Pochettino was in 2016 when Spurs spent over $78 million on some blokes’ named Son Heung-min, Toby Alderweireld, and Kieran Trippier. While they were not the only purchases, they were the ones that turned out. However, with four of the Bale buys, along with academy product Andros Townsend and another bad buy Ben Stambouli all going out, the team brought back some $96 million for a positive net spend.

Outside of 2016 and 2019, the net spend under Pochettino for Tottenham was negative $127.37 million. Yes, that is correct, over $100 million spent on transfers that was not recouped by Levy and the club, all while building Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. To say that Spurs did not support Pochettino is laughable based on that statistic. Now maybe they did not get all the players the gaffer wanted, and a bigger problem was the number of players that simply did not work out, but the problem was NOT a lack of effort or a lack of spending.

In fact, since the Bale buys in the summer of 2013, when the team transfer record was broken three times for Paulinho, then Roberto Soldado, and eventually Erik Lamela; the record has been broken a further three times since with first Moussa Sissoko, then Davinson Sanchez, and finally Tanguy Ndombele all upping the ante on Spurs largest purchase. Ndombele alone almost cost as much as the entire crop of 2010 and 2011 signings which included Crouch and van der Vaart.

Bottom line is the issues with Spurs in the transfer market are not about a willingness or not to spend on players, it is clear that Levy will outlay the cash, however, when those players do not hit, the hurt is big. Just how big, well that is a different article, but it is safe to say, that Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is likely not Tottenham’s last signing of the summer and the three players who have left for free will not be the last Spurs leaving.