While the Premier League campaign begins Sunday for Tottenham Hotspur, work is still to be done.
Tottenham Hotspur have done some of the necessary work for preparing this squad for the grueling season ahead. Spurs did the heavy lifting early, adding steel to the midfield with the addition of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Besides Hojbjerg, Tottenham added some veteran leadership and opened a foreign spot in the squad by replacing third keeper Michel Vorm with former England International Joe Hart.
Spurs then added what one would hope be competition for Serge Aurier at right back, Matt Doherty from Wolves. However, that is where the activity ends, and the needs begin with nearly four weeks left in the transfer window, which closes October 5.
Tottenham positives in window
Given that Tottenham have had a window with zero signings in the last two campaigns and the world is in the middle of a global pandemic and recession, three signings is nothing to be upset about, in fact they are all pretty good for different reasons, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg the headline of the trio.
Having played at Southampton for the past four seasons, the 25-year-old was advertised as a wrecking ball, which average to above average ball skills. While only a couple meaningless friendlies have occurred since then, it is clear Hojbjerg can do more with the ball at his feet than he was allowed to show at Southampton and having a better squad around him should allow him to shine.
Even if Hojbjerg is only above average on the ball, his defensive nous and defensive eye for the game bring something to Spurs their unbalanced midfield sorely needed. Whether paired with Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli, or even Harvey White, Hojbjerg will make them better and that is a big plus for a defense that was in need of some protection and a midfield in need of some symmetry.
The other “big” signing thus far was Matt Doherty from Wolverhampton Wanderers, a Premier League rival. A little older than the typical Tottenham signing at 28 and turning 29-years-of-age during the season, Doherty brings Premier League experience, weakens a competitor of Spurs and – assuming Serge Aurier is NOT sold – provides real depth and competition at right back.
Having been at Wolves for nearly a decade, Doherty was one of the few players who could claim to be part of the Wolverhampton side that was relegated back in 2011-12 and the team that earned promotion in 2017-18.
Maybe not as dynamic going forward as Aurier, Doherty brings a consistency and level of concentration defensively that Aurier has shown to lack in the past. Together, they should provide a solid duo for Jose Mourinho to rotate.
In the last two seasons, Michel Vorm only played five total games and four of those five came in 2018-19, despite Hugo Lloris being injured for three months of the 2019-20 campaign. Vorm’s one match was the fifth round FA Cup defeat where Spurs fell to Norwich on penalties 3-2.
Vorm did save one of four penalties faced in the shoot-out, right about his career average, having saved eight of 37 penalties in his career for a 21.6% save rate.
Despite mixed reviews from his performance against Watford in the final preseason game, the reality is unless Paulo Gazzaniga is suddenly sold, Hart’s minutes are likely to be limited. Further, if Hart does face the same situation as Vorm, he does have a better save percentage at 26.3% from 15 of 57 penalties in his career.
More important is the potential of Hart in the odd cup match is not using a foreign-born space in any competition for a third-string keeper, which Vorm did for Spurs as a Dutch international.
Spurs with business left to do
Three signings in at least two positions of need is positive for Tottenham Hotspur, however, a couple of needs continue to persist down the center spine of the team.
Harry Kane is arguably the best striker on the planet, but as we have seen time and again, including most recently in dramatic detail in “All or Nothing”, Kane is human, and his body will break down if he is overused. Despite The Sun’s consist pleas, it does not have to be Gareth Bale. A good striker from the Championship can provide cover. It just needs to be a striker.
Besides the continued need for cover with Kane, there are questions about the creative forces behind Kane putting verve in the attack. Giovanni Lo Celso has demonstrated the ability to be a terrific spoke in the center of the wheel, but that has yet to translate in the attacking third.
Dele Alli is the perfect foil for Kane, but as was seen in the Mauricio Pochettino heyday, a creative playmaker like Christian Eriksen made them both all the better. Whether that creative support for Kane and Dele is Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele or someone that is yet to be signed, Jose Mourinho needs to figure that out.
Finally, there are still questions with the defense, particularly on the left side. Ben Davies and Eric Dier are the two knowns, with a side of Toby Alderweireld. However, only one of those three players is left-footed, and it does matter at times in the campaign. Tanganga can do a job as can Ryan Sessegnon, but Sessegnon is likely a future winger and Tanganga is a right-sided center-half by trade, just like Davinson Sanchez, Dier, Alderweireld, and Juan Foyth.
While the addition of Hojbjerg has added balance to the midfield and Doherty helps provide some depth and experience at right back, the questions on the left side of the defense remain. Long-time Spur Jan Vertonghen left this summer and the future for Danny Rose is clearly somewhere else, but no replacements have been brought in.
Dennis Cirkin and Juan Foyth have provided some cover for Davies this summer, but Cirkin is young and unproven and again Foyth is not a natural at the position.
The good news for Tottenham and Spurs fans is that there is still time, in fact the transfer window does not close until October 5, nearly four full weeks away. Factor in we know Daniel Levy likes to leave things late and that it is not a matter of having funds, and that leaves fans with all we ever have, hope.
If Levy and company can manage to produce the missing pieces Jose Mourinho and the squad needs, maybe this year will bring magic, if not, we know the medical staff better be ready.