Tottenham have a wonky, lopsided squad of mixed quality. Plenty need replacing but it’s not all bad news. Build a team around this lot and they might even win a thing, maybe.
Obvious answer is obvious, but no less correct for that. Even when struggling remains as reliable source of goals as anyone in this league and when at his best is a truly complete striker whose astonishing feats are, if anything, underappreciated. Scored seven goals in the last eight games of the season and by its end looked to be approaching the sort of heights he hasn’t hit for two years. As well as his established rapport with Heung-min Son, the summer mini-season also provided tantalising evidence of a growing understanding with…
Giovani Lo Celso
Didn’t quite find his mid-season peak when the campaign resumed, but still an obvious class above Tottenham’s other central options. He’s not the same kind of player as Christian Eriksen, just as Eriksen was not the same kind of player as Luka Modric. But he can perform a similar and much-needed role in this side. Always appears to have time on the ball and everything he does looks silky smooth. Also, crucially, has the snap and bite needed to go with the artistry, and the final-day goal against Palace, in which Lo Celso won the ball high up the pitch before intelligently playing in Kane to finish smartly, was tantalisingly reminiscent of Tottenham’s best football of recent years.
Tottenham were quite simply massively less rubbish when he came back into the side during Project Restart. Not as good as he once was, still way better than any other alternative. And whether it’s Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez or Japhet Tanganga alongside the Belgian, they are all better players when Alderweireld is taking charge of things.
The Dutchman is an interesting one. His signing was precisely the sort of opportunistic acquisition of a very good footballer that Tottenham should have been making in the years when their tip-top squad needed only minor tinkering to keep it in peak condition. Instead, they allowed it to stagnate to the point that by the time of Bergwijn’s arrival far more drastic surgery was required and his signing looked a bit of a luxury. Nevertheless, Tottenham’s attacks often have a certain lumpen quality that calls for someone with directness and an eye for goal. Bergwijn, at 22, certainly looks an upgrade on that night in Amsterdam’s Lucas Moura and his frequent forays up blind alleys.
Shiny new contract signed and injury problems (hopefully) behind him, 2020/21 could be a big season for the 21-year-old defender. Firstly, because he’s clearly an enormously exciting talent – and his promotion to the first team is one of the definite positives of Mourinho’s reign – but second because there are clearly opportunities to stake a claim on positions in this Tottenham defence. Initially, Tanganga’s chances may come at right-back where he need only be less of a liability than Serge Aurier but nobody has yet nailed down the spot available at centre-back alongside and learning from the great Alderweireld.