You could almost be forgiven for forgetting José Mourinho is Tottenham Hotspur manager.
The Portuguese succeeded Mauricio Pochettino on November 20. Just 12 games into the 2019/20 Premier League season and six months after the UEFA Champions League final, Spurs were 14th.
If Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy hoped Mourinho’s appointment would provide a short sharp shock, he was sadly mistaken. ‘The Special One’ was ‘The Charming One’ initially but the mask quickly slipped.
Mourinho typically does his best work after modelling a squad in his own image. This summer’s transfer window could make-or-break his time in North London, and we’ve previewed it all…
At the start of the season all the talk was around the three senior players whose contracts were up. Toby Alderweireld signed a new agreement and Christian Eriksen left for Internazionale in January. That leaves Jan Vertonghen.
It’s expected the 33-year-old will leave Tottenham when his contract expires – subject to an extension to finish the season. The Belgian is wanted in Italy with Internazionale chief among his admirers.
Youngster Japhet Tanganga is out of contract but the 21-year-old should sign a new deal after breaking into Mourinho’s first-team squad. Third-choice keeper Michel Vorm could depart for a second time after re-signing as emergency cover.
Danny Rose is likely to bring his 13-year association with Spurs to an end too. The 29-year-old is on loan at Newcastle United – who would like to sign him permanently – and has made no secret of his desire to leave.
On the right-hand side of defence, the haphazard Serge Aurier has proven himself a liability off the field as well as on it. The Ivorian has been caught breaking UK lockdown rules at least twice and his defending is as questionable as his judgement.
Club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele could be sacrificed too. The Frenchman was one of several players spotted training with Mourinho in a park in North London in April. Mourinho has been highly critical of the €62million midfielder since taking over.
Key areas to strengthen
Mourinho’s most successful teams have been built on rock-solid defensive foundations. That’s something his Tottenham side sorely lack. With 40 goals conceded in just 29 Premier League games, Spurs have the ninth-worst defensive record in the Premier League.
Regardless, if the anticipated defensive clear-out goes ahead new defenders will be needed across the backline.
Right-back is the biggest issue, even if Aurier stays. On the opposite side, Ben Davies has endured an injury-plagued campaign. Even if he can shake off those problems, there are question marks over his suitability to play every week.
At centre-back, Davinson Sánchez could succeed Vertonghen as Alderweireld’s partner. But if Foyth leaves, another senior central option is required.
Up front, Tottenham have yet to replace Fernando Llorente as Harry Kane‘s understudy. Steven Bergwijn and Heung-min Son could play there, but a proper No.9 to deputise for the England captain is needed.
One name which won’t go away is that of Southampton skipper Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. The Danish international would add some much-needed bite to the Tottenham midfield and no-one in the Premier League can better his 10.56 ball recoveries per 90.
According to the Evening Standard, the Saints won’t accept less than £35million for the 24-year-old who has just 12 months remaining on his contract.
Despite signing a one-year extension with Chelsea earlier in the summer, Olivier Giroud is a Tottenham transfer target, according to the Daily Express. With Timo Werner set to join the Blues, the 33-year-old former Arsenal hitman could be available for just £7million.
An alternative in the forward stakes could be Rennes striker M’Baye Niang. The former Milan attacker, who spent time on loan at Watford in 2017, won’t be allowed to leave for less than £20million – that per Le Parisien.
One more fanciful link has seen Spurs mooted as a potential destination for Real Madrid sensation Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan has shone during a two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund and will return to the Spanish capital this summer.
Flamengo midfielder Gerson is also wanted by Chelsea and Spurs. According to Fox Sports, Tottenham will have to pay £30million for the Brazilian who returned to South America from Roma in a £10.5million deal in July.
Someone who will cost considerably less, though, is Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser. The Scot will leave the Vitality on a free transfer this summer and Spurs, along with Watford and Crystal Palace, are keen on the 5ft 4in wideman.