The short close season has been exciting for Spurs fans from the moment the club announced the investment of an additional £150 million into the kitty. The influence of Antonio Conte has surely led to one of the most active and fruitful transfer windows in recent years. Only two or three years ago we had been clamouring for refreshment of personnel. Spurs’ ability to maintain and then compete for Champions League football suffered, but thanks to Conte and a fine end of season run, we will see Champions League football again this season at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The first piece of incoming transfer news came on the last day of May with the arrival of 33-year-old Croatian international Ivan Perisic on a free transfer after his contract with Inter came to an end. Perisic had of course played under Conte before. He joined Inter in September 2015 and played 208 league games, scoring 49 goals in Serie A. Perisic scored 5 goals in his last six club games for Inter, including two goals in extra time in their 4-2 Coppa Italia win over Juventus.
Perisic spent the 2019/20 season on loan with Bayern Munich and played against us in our last Champions League group game in December 2019 when we lost 3-1. In a wonderful personal moment, Ryan Sessegnon scored our goal in the 20th minute and at 19 years and 207 days became Spurs’ youngest ever Champions League scorer. Ryan Sessegnon is a player who has won Conte’s favour and Perisic is a player who will also be competing for the left wing-back slot, although he can also play across the front three.
Perisic is a veteran Croatian International and has scored 32 goals in 113 senior international games, which included goals against England in the 2018 World Cup semi-final win and in Croatia's final defeat to France.
Spurs have also faced Perisic in two friendly matches against Inter in 2016 and 2019, and our two Champions League 2018 meetings.
Little more than a week after Perisic’s announcement came the news that Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster was also joining the club on a free transfer, at the end of his contract. Forster is an England international (his sixth and last appearance was in 2016) and made 134 Premier League appearances since joining Southampton from Celtic in 2014. He made 19 Premier League appearances last season and will replace Pierluigi Gollini as back-up to regular starter Hugo Lloris at Spurs. Gollini, who was on loan with Tottenham from Atalanta, will now play for Fiorentina, again on loan.
Despite Southampton’s poor end to last season, Forster gave a very good account of himself and made many good saves, frustrating Spurs at home and away against “The Saints” last season.
The next signing for Spurs did involve a fee, reported to be in the region of £25 million and was for exciting Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma.
Bissouma has the type of ball-winning and ball-carrying skills that Spurs have often missed since Mousa Dembele left us for China three years ago. (Mousa has now retired) Bissouma will compete for the midfield slots occupied by Bentancur, Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp.
Brighton manager Graham Potter was very graceful about Bissouma’s move, saying the transfer is "very good" for the player and the south coast club. "Yves has shown his undoubted ability and been an important player for us during his time with us," he said. "Now he has a new challenge with Tottenham, including the opportunity to play Champions League football, and everyone at the club wishes him well."
Before the next big name was announced the club reported the arrival of two additions to the Development squad. These were 19-year-old Republic of Ireland youth international goalkeeper Josh Keeley from Dublin based St. Patrick’s Athletic, where he was coached by none other than our own Pat Jennings’ son – also named Patrick. Keeley has travelled with the squad to South Korea for our two games against Team K league and Sevilla and of course the associated, sometimes gruelling, training sessions. At the same time, versatile defender Tyrell Ashcroft (now 18) was signed from Reading. Ashcroft played the last half hour of this week’s U-21 friendly against Enfield.
Big money (up to £60 million) was paid to Everton for Brazilian International Richarlison, who has scored 48 Premier League goals in games played for Watford and Everton. Richarlison’s 10 league goals last season played a crucial part in keeping “The Toffees” in the Premier League. He has also scored 14 International goals in 36 senior International appearances. Richarlison was 25 in May and can play across the front three. Indeed, he was seen leading the Spurs line and playing both left and right of centre in our first pre-season game against Team K league.
Richarlison will miss the first Premier League game of the season after receiving a one-match ban due to a flare incident in May during former club Everton's crucial 1-0 win over Chelsea at Goodison Park.
Richarlison will be wearing the number 9 shirt which has too often been vacant in recent years. The last five holders of the shirt have been:-
20/21 - Gareth Bale
16/17 - 18/19 - Vincent Janssen
13/14-15/16 - Roberto Soldado
08/09-11/12 - Roman Pavlyuchenko
06/07-08/09 - Dimitar Berbatov
The final player signing (to date) was left-sided centre-back Clement Lenglet on loan from Barcelona. Lenglet did not arrive in time to travel to South Korea but will compete with Ben Davies’ position at centre-back. Lenglet is 27 and has 15 senior caps for France.
With new rules permitting the use of five substitutes in all games this season, plus the need to have depth in order to make progress in both the Premier League and Champions League, the degree of strength that has been added to the squad is most welcome.
There have been departures which I will record shortly in a separate article. The highest profile of these so far is Steven Bergwijn.
There have also been additions to the scouting and coaching elements of the club. Firstly Spurs recruited Rangers chief scout Andy Scoulding (40), who had been with the club since 2017. Secondly the club appointed Grètar Steinsson as their new Performance Director. Steinsson was a former Iceland international who played against us in the Premier League during his time at Bolton Wanderers and joined from the Icelandic FA where he has been working as Technical Advisor.
We also have a new set pieces coach Gianni Vio (69), who had most recently been working with the Italian national team. Perhaps his influence enabled Harry Kane’s low free kick goal against Team K League!
Update - 19/07/22
The signing of Middlesbrough right (wing) back Djed Spence was much anticipated, and it is thought he did his Tottenham media work over the weekend while the squad, plus officials including Daniel Levy, were away in South Korea. One suggestion was that Daniel Levy needed to put pen to paper before the move could be made public.
Spence was much lauded last season when making 39 Championship appearances on loan to promoted Nottingham Forest, including their successful play-off final. He has made three England under-21 appearances this year. Spence is London-born and began his career with Fulham. His name features in this October 2017 report by Ray Lo. Djed will be 22 on 9th August.
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