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Premier League clubs are spending freely this summer in a bid to muscle in on the top four next season.
Manchester United have paid an initial £75m for striker Romelu Lukaku,Arsenal have broken their transfer record to sign France forward Alexandre Lacazette, and Everton have invested £90m. And that’s before we even look at last season’s top four.
Champions Chelsea have already spent nearly £70m on two signings and are set to almost double that outlay by signing Spain striker Alvaro Morata. Manchester City have surpassed that figure, and Liverpool are willing to pay a club record fee to sign RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita.
But what about Tottenham Hotspur?
Since finishing second in the Premier League last season, Spurs have cashed in on right-back Kyle Walker – selling the England international to Manchester City for £45m – but are yet to add to their squad.
BBC Sport asks why Mauricio Pochettino’s side are yet to make their move, what it is like dealing with chairman Daniel Levy, and whether the club needs to invest at all.
Tottenham leaving it late?
But the pattern of recent seasons suggests it may be a while before Levy makes his move, with the majority of Spurs’ incoming deals finalised in August.
Last August, they paid Newcastle £30m for midfielder Moussa Sissoko in the final few hours of the window, having signed £9m winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and loan goalkeeper Pau Lopez earlier in the day.
Prior to that, forward Son Heung-min (£22m), midfielder Erik Lamela (£25.7m),goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (£11.8m) and forward Clint Dempsey (£6m) all joined the club in the closing days and hours of transfer windows.
Football agent Jon Smith expects, with transfers at a premium this summer, some clubs may be waiting until late in the window to do their business in the hope fees will fall.
However, he says leaving a deal to be concluded at the last minute makes it “much, much more difficult”.
“The luxury of doing a deal like Kyle Walker in July is you have the time,” Smith told BBC Sport. “It’s not pressurised. Although you are dealing with people’s lives, because the deals are quite complex, it’s much easier to put things to the side and deal with them one by one.
“If you have three days to go and five deals sloshing around, it’s very difficult.
“There are two opposites at play. If you have a deal that’s not really coming together, the end of the transfer window does focus everyone’s attention. You have to put your foot on the gas or take your foot off the accelerator.”
Doing business with Daniel Levy
One of the generally accepted rules of football is that doing transfer business with Spurs’ chairman is notoriously difficult.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said dealing with Levy over the signing of striker Dimitar Berbatov in 2008 was “more painful than my hip replacement”.
But does he deserve that reputation?
Smith says Levy “does everything with a smile”, perhaps because the club’s balance sheet is always “one of the best in the Premier League”.
Tottenham, who are in the process of building a new stadium which is expected to cost £750m, made a post-tax profit of £33m in their latest financial results.
“He’s a good guy to deal with,” said Smith. “He’s very savvy on his funding arrangements for the stadium. Of course, they have got to be careful because that’s a huge outlay.
“He’s done a blinding deal on Kyle Walker, so he has definitely got money to spend, but he is not going to be doing Manchester United-type deals this summer.”
Do Spurs need to break wage structure?
Match of the Day pundit Jermaine Jenas said earlier this summer that the wage structure at his former club leaves them susceptible to big-spending clubs looking to “cherry pick” their best players.
“When I go through the Tottenham team, some of them are already good enough to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid, so you have to start treating them like players of that calibre, or you will lose them,” said the ex-Spurs midfielder.
Left-back Danny Rose, meanwhile, believes his club need “one marquee signing” this summer if they want to win silverware next season.
But reports suggest Barkley, 23, is asking for £150,000 per week in a deal that would make him Spurs’ highest-paid player.
Smith says Tottenham’s form in recent seasons, and the bonus system implemented by Levy, means Spurs still can attract top players without paying them over the odds.
“They are on a mission and the atmosphere in the club is sensational,” he said. “There is a great team spirit, and that plays to somebody – that’s real.
“If you go to Manchester United, you have to hope you’ll get a game. At Spurs, you’re likely to get a lot of games, and then you’ll earn your bonuses, and the atmosphere is great and it’s London – to a lot of these players, London is the centre of the universe.
“Spurs are not a million miles away. When you hear a player is on £100,000 a week, he’s probably not. He’ll be on £70,000 and the rest is bonuses.”
Smith thinks it is unlikely Tottenham, who will play their home games at Wembley next season, will be willing to break their wage structure this summer.
“Spurs are on a bit of a dream-chase at the moment, and I think that’s got value to footballers, even in this day and age,” he said.
“Daniel is quite good at bonusing people, so that’s where they’re potentially able to still be in the game at the highest level.
“Now is not the time to start breaking structures. If you believe in the club, and believe in where they are going, the bonuses he pays will be higher.”
‘Spurs similar to Man Utd in Beckham era’
In the 1990s, Manchester United brought through the famed ‘Class of ’92’ from their youth system, a group including David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and brothers Gary and Phil Neville – all future England internationals – and Wales legend Ryan Giggs.
But, more recently, Tottenham have emerged a rich breeding ground for young, English talent.
Youth product Harry Kane has been the Premier League’s top scorer in each of the past two campaigns, while 21-year-old midfielder Dele Alli has won the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year award in both of his two seasons since joining from MK Dons.
Football agent Sky Andrew says Spurs are one of the “market leaders” for developing young players, and do not need to spend big this summer.
“It’s phenomenal what Spurs have done,” he told BBC Sport. “What Spurs have done is similar to what Manchester United did in the Beckham and Neville era. Transforming young players into great players.
“Fans are excited by numbers. The press make a big story out of numbers, so where there becomes a bit of a grey area is – do supporters want to just see big money being spent? Or do they want to see a club being run properly and developing young players?
“It’s a bit of a paradox because fans do love seeing their own on the pitch, which is why ‘Harry Kane is one of our own’ is one of the most popular songs in football. But then fans are also excited by big-money signings.”
Andrew says the money being spent this summer is not sustainable, and that more clubs need to follow Spurs’ model of developing young talent.
“To me, the most important part of football is the development end,” he said. “It’s a great business model and the fans love it. Of the top half a dozen clubs, Spurs are the market leaders in developing young players.”
Phil Neville played for Everton after leaving Manchester United – and says the Toffees should look to adopt Spurs’ model of recruitment.
“Everton have to look at Tottenham,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.
“Four or five years ago, Tottenham and Everton were on similar levels, Tottenham kicked on and Everton didn’t but now I think they are well capable of doing a Tottenham – producing a young team with a brilliant manager in Ronald Koeman.”
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