Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham will struggle to sign players in January but has urged the club to get ahead with their summer deals.
Dele Alli is a prime example of early planning paying off after he agreed a deal with Spurs at the end of the 2015 January transfer window before joining up with the squad at the end of the season.
Tottenham could look to strike similar arrangements next month, with boss Pochettino determined to avoid players arriving again late in the summer, when they are short of fitness and need time to adjust.
“Maybe we need to sign players in January and bring them in six months before,” Pochettino said.
“If not, we’re going to compete in the same period as City, United, Liverpool and Chelsea, we’re going to struggle to bring in the players we want.”
Alli was the last January signing Tottenham made as the club have steered clear of buying players mid-season for the past two consecutive years.
Spurs, however, remain central to the late summer frenzy. All five of their arrivals last summer joined in August, with Fernando Llorente and Serge Aurier both completing moves on deadline day.
“Like always, it’s so difficult to find the right profile to add in January, who can change and help you achieve what you want,” Pochettino said.
“To be more realistic, it’s so important today to identify your targets for next summer. If not, if we wait until May and before signing [players] we sell. It’s so difficult to bring in players that can help.
“This season is a very good example. I think we signed good players but it was so late, with no pre-season and then they have to play.
“You need six or seven months for the players to fit, adapt themselves to the team, the dynamics, everything. And that is always against us.
“We were talking about how important it is to identify our targets and 3 July, when we start pre-season, have them here.
“If not, it’s so difficult for them to affect and help the team. And then during the season, you’re going to pay.”
There will also be the added pressures next year of the World Cup, where players’ prices can quickly shoot up, and the earlier closure of the summer transfer window on August 9, before the season starts.
“When it’s a World Cup, we cannot wait because you need to do some business before, no?” Pochettino said.
“And yes, the earlier deadline. You need to be clever because sometimes if you want to do business – when the World Cup is finished, some players are maybe down here and after a good World Cup, they are up here, and then you say [waves goodbye], forget it.”