Coming into the January 2020 transfer window, it was hard to say exactly what fans of Tottenham Hotspur were hoping to see. On one hand – with injuries to the likes of Ben Davies, Moussa Sissoko and Harry Kane – it was clear that Jose Mourinho’s squad needed reinforcements, but on the other, there were plenty of reports suggesting that potential funds would be hard to come by.
Personally, I was looking primarily for three things; firstly, for Daniel Levy to open the purse strings at least a little and bring some new blood in, secondly, for a handful of certain players to be moved onto new clubs, and thirdly for a new striker to be signed to give Harry Kane some respite.
Well, as Meat Loaf famously said, two out of three ain’t bad.
Spurs ended up bringing in two new players in the form of midfielder Gedson Fernandes and forward Steven Bergwijn – as well as inking Giovani Lo Celso on a permanent basis – while Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker-Peters all departed for new pastures, the latter two players on loan.
However, after failed negotiations to sign Krzysztof Piatek, Willian Jose and Olivier Giroud, Spurs remain without a recognised frontman for as long as Kane remains on the shelf, which could well turn out to be the remainder of the season.
From a fan’s perspective, that final part hurts the most. Usually to see Tottenham making a signing like Steven Bergwijn would be a cause for celebration, but this month it didn’t really feel that way; the Dutchman cost £27m from PSV Eindhoven and is clearly a player of tremendous talent, but considering they already have Lucas Moura and Son Heung Min to play in his best position – with Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon all able to do so as well – would the money have not been better served on a new striker?
The likelihood now is that Mourinho will use either Bergwijn or Son as his front striker with the other playing alongside Lucas from a wide area, but even the Portuguese has already stated that neither man is a true striker and that his side may struggle to succeed in 3 competitions without one.
So what went wrong? My feeling is simply that Levy wasn’t willing to splash the cash for a player who might not actually have proven to be a genuine solution to the problem Spurs have up front. Spending money on Bergwijn – a player who has been tracked by the club for some time – is one thing, but to spend on someone as unproven as Piatek or Willian Jose would’ve been another.
Truthfully, Levy is probably still feeling burned by the signing of Dutch striker Vincent Janssen, who cost Spurs a lot of money for very little return a few seasons ago.
That’s why the Piatek and Willian Jose deals were always discussed in terms of a potential loan rather than a permanent deal, and why the club didn’t really seem to be targeting any other player. It’s also why the deal for midfielder Gedson is such a smart one.
On paper – and YouTube highlight reels – at least, the 21-year-old Portuguese international should be a straight replacement for the injured Sissoko, but he’s also barely played this season due to a fall-out with his former boss at Benfica. But Tottenham haven’t actually paid anything above a loan fee for him yet, and because his loan term is such a long one – 18 months – the club will almost certainly know by that point whether he’s worth taking on permanently.
Even more so than the signing of Bergwijn, this was Spurs’ best bit of business during the window in my opinion.
What about the departures? It’s hard to be unhappy to see the back of Eriksen and Rose, to be perfectly honest. Mourinho stated that Eriksen had maintained a professional attitude despite never hiding his desire for a move, but while the Dane might not have caused problems off the pitch, on the pitch it felt like the phenomenal playmaker who’d been responsible for many of Tottenham’s greatest moments in the last few seasons was well and truly gone.
To Spurs fans – myself included – Eriksen had downed tools and no longer appeared interested. It’s never nice to hear fans booing one of their own players, particularly one who’d done so much for the club, as Eriksen had, but his apparent lack of effort over recent months certainly warranted it. I wish the Dane luck at Inter Milan, but the reality is that he should’ve been sold a long time ago, as soon as it became clear he didn’t want to remain in North London.
What of Rose? The left-back has moved to Newcastle United on loan, but in my opinion at least, he probably shouldn’t return to Spurs after the season ends. The England international was rumoured to have been the source of the odd report a few weeks ago that stated – apparently falsely – that the Tottenham squad were already sick of Mourinho’s methods.
Even if that wasn’t the case, he had already stated that he didn’t intend to remain at the club after his contract was over, so it’s probably better for him to be gone now, if nothing else than to make sure the squad’s morale remains high.
Walker-Peters, meanwhile, has moved to Southampton on loan. It’s honestly hard to see exactly what the future holds for the youngster; on one hand, he didn’t actually perform badly for Tottenham when he was given the chance this season, but clearly, he didn’t endear himself to either Mourinho or his predecessor Mauricio Pochettino either.
First team opportunities at St. Mary’s should be a make-or-break situation for him; perform well, and he could easily be brought back to Spurs next season to compete with Serge Aurier for the right-back slot – an area in which Tottenham remain short at the minute. If he fails to perform well, then he’ll likely be moved on – this time permanently.
Elsewhere, other areas that I felt Spurs needed to strengthen in were in the full-back positions; the versatile Japhet Tanganga has emerged to lessen the burden across the defence in all areas, but the lack of competition for the inconsistent Serge Aurier is still a worry, as is the fact that Mourinho isn’t convinced by Sessegnon at left-back, meaning Tanganga will also be Ben Davies’ main competitor.
However, it was always likely that the club weren’t going to splash out with big money during this window, so those areas will likely have to wait until the summer to be dealt with – meaning Tanganga will need to suffice as a backup in both full-back slots for the remainder of the season.
So as a Spurs fan, how do I rate the January 2020 transfer window? Almost definitely a mixed bag. If Bergwijn and Gedson settle in and turn out to be big hits at the club, then we’ll probably look back on this month with fond memories.
If Spurs’ lack of goals end up costing them a Champions League spot – particularly if Bergwijn doesn’t settle – then the likelihood is that January 2020 will be remembered as the point in which Levy missed a massive opportunity to bring in a new striker and instead spent big money on a player that his side didn’t necessarily need.
Only time will tell, but overall, I’m cautiously optimistic right now.Published 02 Feb 2020, 11:03 IST