Tottenham paying for five years of failed transfer policy

Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino, Daniel Levy (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino, Daniel Levy (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images) /

We all knew a rebuild was going to be needed at Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino himself had said so in the months leading up to his departure. Even more than the results at the end of his reign, the inability of Tottenham to succeed in the transfer market has led to the Spurs’ demise this season. Regardless of who is coach moving forward, Tottenham has to do better in the market than they did in the Pochettino years.

More Misses than Hits for Tottenham

Tottenham had 11 transfer windows under the management of Mauricio Pochettino and although the Argentine was never the final word in transfers, 26 players – including Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso in summer 2019 – came to Tottenham under his watch. From those 11 windows, Tottenham has 11 players – inclusive of Ndombele and Lo Celso currently on the squad.  (NOTE: all transfer information from

15 of 26 or 58% of all the players signed during Pochettino’s era are not even an option for José Mourinho and the current staff. 11 of those 15 players are completely gone from the club and a further four on loan. While there have been some big hits in that time with Dele early in his tenure and Heung-Min Son’s growth at Tottenham, there have been a lot of misses too.

So there are 11 current first-team players who were signed during the Pochettino era. Going all the way back to the first window under Pochettino there was the acquisition of Ben Davies and Eric Dier as well as Dele Alli. Four other players were signed in that first window and only one – Michel Vorm – had any kind of staying power at Tottenham.

Benjamin Stamboli, Federico Fazio, and DeAndre Yedlin were also signed during that first Pochettino year of transfer and it is safe to say they were not hits.

The summer of2015 brought two stars to Tottenham, as Heung-Min Son and Toby Alderweireld joined the club. And while Kieran Trippier had a couple of seasons of good service to the Spurs as well, whereas Clinton N’Jie and Kevin Wimmer just did not quite work out.

Many will point to the summer of 2018/19 where Tottenham failed to sign anyone as the real issue, but frankly, it was 2016/17 where the transfers really started going south. Only 1 player from that market – Moussa Sissoko is still with Tottenham. Whereas Vincent Janssen and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou were total flops.

Victor Wanyama was not a flop and had one really strong season for Tottenham but was injured more than anything with the club. That is 16 players signed in those first three years under Pochettino and only six still with the club.

2017-18 was a good year for Spurs recruitment or was it?

In some respects, 2017-18 was another okay year for Tottenham as three current contributors were signed. Then again, some fans may have rather Tottenham not signed Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier, and Lucas Moura that season. Juan Foyth and Paulo Gazzaniga are still on the books but are out on loan and Fernando Llorente is gone.

Considering none of those players seems like the future of the club, the reality is it was another terrible year of transfer. But as if things could not get any worse in the transfer market, Tottenham outdid itself in 2018-19.

Of course, 2018-19 was the season without any incoming transfers. Given not even a full team of first-team players had come in over the previous four seasons it was hardly the time to hold the line. However, that is what happened as Tottenham failed to sign anyone and worse failed to get rid of much of the deadwood that had been accumulating over this same period. That inability to get rid of deadwood as well as the habit of extending players who maybe were playing a bit over their ability as created major contract issues for Tottenham too.

The last window for Pochettino did deliver Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, although the jury is still very much out still on Ryan Sessegnon and Jack Clarke – also signed in that window.

Of course, we never got to see exactly what Pochettino could do with his last group of recruits but if history tells us anything it is that only 1 or 2 will still be a contributing member of the team in a season or two.

Tottenham needs to do better with management

While some fantastic academy products helped fill the gaps under Pochettino initially from the recruitment woes that pipeline only had so much and the failure in the market caught up with the Argentine and are still plaguing his successor. I am not happy with the progress of the team under José Mourinho, however, that progress has to also be considered within the context of what he is working with.

For Tottenham to succeed they have to recruit better and start hitting more often than less. That means changes in the organization that go beyond the coaching staff and speak directly to Daniel Levy and some of the shortcomings fans point out under his leadership. Ultimately, it is Levy and his team that needs to do better providing the talent needed to achieve the ambitions, the club’s fans, stadium, and coach all merit.

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