Entering the summer transfer window, supporters braced themselves for a Tottenham rebuild, but recent ongoings suggest the club is ready to immediately re-enter the Champions League conversation.
Securing a top-four spot, however, may depend on two pivotal off-season decisions, one of which focuses on whether Harry Kane stays or goes.
Whether Harry Kane stays or goes
Based on Daniel Levy’s reluctance to sell his prized asset, let’s, for now, assume he will stay. The complexion might swiftly change if Bayern Munich submits an offer of at least €90 million.
Whether that happens is anyone’s guess, but Munich rarely splashes out that much on any one player. Munich spent €67 million on Matthijs de Ligt last year and paid €80 million on Lucas Hernandez in 2019-20.
Aside from those two substantial expenditures, Bayern Munich has paid €40 million or more on three transfers since 2013-14.
While Kane is worth every penny, the German champions must break its club-record transfer fee to land the Spurs’ legend. They have their work cut out if they are going to land their primary transfer target.
Without Kane, Spurs’ offence would have been anemic last season.
He scored 43 percent of the team’s goals in 2022-23, the highest proportion of his Tottenham career.
While the addition of James Maddison will help relieve the pressure mounted on Kane to produce, nobody can make up for the talisman’s outrageously consistent production. If he leaves, Tottenham would have to operate via a scoring-by-committee mentality.
But every member of the committee would have to produced far more often than they did last season for that scenario to work.
Whether Tottenham signs Edmond Tapsoba or Micky van de Ven
Tottenham’s pursuit of a Champions League berth could also come down to whether the club decides to sign Edmond Tapsoba or Micky van de Ven.
Based on various reports, it will be an either-or situation and not both.
Both players have substantial upside, but Tottenham requires a reliable, seasoned pro, a marshal who is excessively comfortable in possession, and somebody whose forward distribution is unerringly accurate.
While Spurs will have to pay €20 or €30 million more than they will for van de Ven, Tapsoba is ready to seamlessly step into Spurs’ first team, immediately replacing Eric Dier.
The same might not be accurate for van de Ven, whose Bundesliga experience consists of 38 total appearances, 33 of which were during last year’s breakout campaign. The 22-year-old has heaps of potential and will probably reach Tapsoba’s level of readiness in a few years.
There is a strong argument to be made for van de Ven in the long term, especially as he could be a better complement for Cristian Romero.
But if Tottenham wants to push for a top-four spot in the 2023-24 campaign, they should opt for the more experienced of the two.
His analytics are off the chart and are far superior to van de Ven’s. Here’s a quick comparison between Spurs’ two candidates:
- 90.7 percent passing accuracy
- 67.1 percent forward passing accuracy
- 90.6 progressive passes
- 64.7 successful defensive actions
- 79.3 percent defensive duels won
- 48.1 percent aerial duels won (a slightly worrying stat)
- 88.8 progressive runs
- 4528 minutes played in 2022-23
Micky van de Ven
- 57.7 percent passing accuracy
- 65.5 percent forward passing accuracy
- 33.3 progressive passes
- 11.7 successful defensive actions
- 29.2 percent defensive duels won
- 49.9 percent of aerial duels won
- 88.7 progressive runs
- 3486 minutes played in 2022-23
He’s left-footed but can play on either side of central defence. Tapsoba rarely concedes possession, but even more importantly, he has the confidence and composure to play precise forward passes, constantly advancing the ball.
That will be music to Ange’s ears.
The Burkina Faso international is also a robust defender and an athletic specimen. While not as quick as the sprinter-like van de Ven, Tapsoba is a pure defender, winning almost 80 percent of duels last season.
He has made 100 Bundesliga appearances, including 33 in the 2022-23 season.
The century of appearances is even more impressive when you consider he’s still only 24 years old.
In addition to his wealth of German top-flight experience, Tapsoba has made 34 appearances in European competitions, five in the Champions League, and 29 in the Europa League.
The powerful centre-back was instrumental in leading Bayer Leverkusen to a sixth-place finish in 2020-21 and 2022-23 and third place in 2021-22. Leverkusen secured a fifth-place finish in 2019-20, his debut season in the Bundesliga.
Financial considerations will probably play the most prominent part in whether Spurs decide on Tapsoba or van de Ven. Both players are keen on joining Tottenham, with the prospective deal for van de Ven said to be more advanced.
But if Tottenham is to immediately return to Europe’s most coveted and prestigious club competition, they must retain Kane and, almost as importantly, secure Tapsoba’s services.
While signing van de Ven shouldn’t be considered a consolation prize, the Dutchman’s inexperience could prevent Tottenham from reaching their ultimate goal, at least in the short term.