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Selling And Not Buying Can Define A Club’s Transfer Window

 • by Simon Collings
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The final days of the transfer window are upon us and football fans are beginning to get tetchy.

Most are anxious about the fact their club hasn’t done enough business yet with too few players coming in.

Just search Arsenal, Newcastle United or Tottenham on Twitter and you’ll get a flavour of the mood.

Among supporters of English clubs there seems to be an insatiable thirst for their teams to buy new players.

Each summer it is a similar story in that, as soon as the season is finished, attention is turned towards who is coming in to bolster the squad.

Perhaps it is the huge money available to Premier League clubs that has created such a mindset, or it may well be that it is simply part of English culture.

Either way, when a problem arises fans tend to think a club should throw money at the issue. Out with the old and in with the new, so to speak.

However, as Arsène Wenger points out, such a way of thinking is not so easy to put into practice in the current market.

“It is difficult to find the players today to strengthen these kind of [top Premier League] teams,” says Wenger. “Everybody says: ‘Buy!’

“Then you say: ‘Who?’ You spend £50million today for normal players. You still must sell some shirts and tickets to spend £50million.”

Wenger’s explanation that everyone tells him to ‘buy’ emphasises the hunger among supporters for new signings.

However, in this crazy market, it is quickly becoming the case that clubs are overlooked for their ability to hold onto players.

When assessing how well a side has operated in the transfer window, conclusions are swiftly drawn from the incomings with little acknowledgement given to who has left.

Arsenal fans maybe craving one more signing, but surely if the club keep Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil that must be viewed as a successful window?

The same must be thought of Liverpool who, if they manage to fend off Barcelona and keep Philippe Coutinho, should be over the moon with their summer business.

Fears over a lack of incomings has been a situation we have seen at Tottenham, in particular, this summer.

The club maybe close to bringing in Ajax defender Davinson Sánchez and other targets, but they have been previously ridiculed over a lack of signings.

However, even if the window were to shut tomorrow, it would be difficult to argue against Tottenham not having had a successful one.

Despite Paris Saint-Germain throwing money around and Barcelona having £200million in the bank to spend from the sale of Neymar, Spurs have kept nearly all of their top stars.

Striker Harry Kane has not been lured away, nor has midfield maestro Dele Alli, yet both have been linked with Europe’s biggest clubs.

Tottenham have lost Kyle Walker to Manchester City, but that sale banked the club £50million and in Kieran Trippier they have a ready-made replacement.

Given Spurs’ wage structure – as was recently highlighted by Danny Rose – it is remarkable that the club have kept nearly all of the big players.

The nucleus of Tottenham’s squad has stayed together and that, as their former striker Gary Lineker explains, could be more valuable than any new signing.

“Sometimes it is all very well when your supporters are saying: ‘We’ve not made enough signings, we want three or four new players,’” says Lineker. “But if you look at Spurs, they are actually quite a strong team.

“It could perhaps upset the equilibrium a bit by bringing in three or four faces.

“Other teams that have – Manchester United, Manchester City, etc. – they have brought in three or four players and they don’t know how they are going to adapt immediately.

“They have got the problem of not knowing their best team, the best selection, the best system that suits those particular players.

“They might steal a march and get off to a good start, because they’re the teams that have familiarity amongst themselves and know what’s the best way of playing.

“So it’s not necessarily an advantage to bring in loads of players every summer.

“When you know you have got a player that is going to play every week it is not easy to drag in another player that’s thinking I might not get a game here.”

Undoubtedly finding players who can improve Tottenham is a challenge for manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs amassed 86 points last season and finished second in the Premier League, so naturally there are finite number of individuals who can take them that final step.

However, within their own squad, there are players who can perhaps guide them to a first major trophy since 2008.

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It should not be forgotten that Pochettino has on his hands one of the youngest group of players in the Premier League and many of them are yet to reach their peak.

Alli is 20, Kane is 21, while playmaker Christian Eriksen is still only 25.

So does this explain the club’s lack of transfer activity?

“It is important to assess if a team is at the beginning of the cycle or the end of the cycle,” says Wenger.

Tottenham, given the squad’s average age, are most certainly a team at the start of their cycle.

As Lineker pointed out, it is very easy to upset the balance of a side and history has shown us change can be disruptive.

It was only four years ago that Tottenham fans claimed they had sold Elvis and bought the Beatles when Gareth Bale left for Real Madrid in 2013.

As that showed, it can often take years for clubs to build a winning team but just one transfer window for it all to be dismantled.

Tottenham, however, have so far managed to avoid such a scenario again and it is why this summer must be viewed as a success.

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