With the page turned on the month of January, Tottenham Hotspur has now had their opportunity to readjust their squad ahead of the Premier League stretch run. I say the word ‘readjust’ here because this transfer window more than ever felt like a chance for Spurs to ship out the players Antonio Conte felt he could not rely on and instead bring on players that he feels could.
When Spurs appointed Conte, there were many reasons for optimism. But ultimately the biggest one was the club finally having a manager with the credentials and resume to make tough decisions about players who had not been showing their quality in quite some time. Dele Alli, Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele are three players who are no longer with the squad, with Dele moving to Everton on a permanent move and the latter duo on loan until at least the end of the season.
With everything going on at the club, both on the pitch and behind closed doors, it was always going to be a difficult challenge for many players relatively new to the squad to come in, find their best role and get into their optimal form. The cohesion and togetherness that was felt under Mauricio Pochettino had all but dried up and there was plenty of blame to go around with fans alternately criticizing the players, managers and even the board/chairman.
By bringing in Conte, Spurs finally had the embodiment of a “judge and jury” — someone who could assess the squad and figure out the best way forward. Many expected big things from Ndombele and Lo Celso when the Italian was appointed, but oddly enough it has been Harry Winks who has benefitted the most from Conte’s appointment.
That idea that Conte had certain players he could count on and others he couldn’t no doubt made its way to Fabio Paratici and the board going into this transfer window. Due to the nature of the month and the difficulties that come with it, there are many positives and some negatives that have come from the January transfer window. Let’s reflect on what was a big month as well as Conte’s first window.
Glass half full
For starters, Spurs brought in two players who look to be good additions into the squad in Swedish international Dejan Kulusevski and Uruguayan international Rodrigo Bentancur. While the two were really on the outside looking in at Juventus, both players provide the potential to be important additions into the squad. Both Kulusevski (21) and Bentancur (24) are on the young side and have extremely high work-rates. Additionally, Spurs are adding two players with big game experience who have played roles in winning leagues, cups and Champions League games.
There is an argument to be made that right wingback and a more-creative midfielder should have been a higher priority over a right sided winger (Kulusevski) and a number six/eight central midfielder (Bentancur), but the reliability and versatility of both provides for sufficient cover. In Kulusevski, Spurs are getting a player that can operate in a…