Will Tottenham’s January transfer business push Mauricio Pochettino to Man Utd?
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy is treading something of a tightrope this month.
He needs to balance the books while paying for the club’s newly-built but not yet used stadium, while also showing the sort of ambition that will encourage manager Mauricio Pochettino that his future is in north London.
Spurs are currently third in the Premier League table and in contention for the title following recent slip-ups by Liverpool and Manchester City.
That scenario has arisen despite the club having not made a single signing last summer. In his press conference yesterday, Pochettino appeared resigned to the prospect of a second successive transfer window without adding any players to his squad.
While he declared himself pleased with the players currently at his disposal and acknowledged that the club would have trouble finding players who are available this month and also of the required quality and temperament, you sense there must be a degree of frustration building.
For a man who has been strongly touted as Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor at Manchester United, it is inevitable that the ambition and spending power of the two clubs will start to be compared in Pochettino’s thoughts.
Also at his press conference, the Argentine boss declared that Spurs did not need to sell players in order to make signings. But the likeliest scenario at the moment is that they will sell players but not make any signings.
Reports this morning suggest that midfielder Mousa Dembele is on the verge of an £11m move to Chinese side Beijing Guoan.
The BBC also suggests that Levy is seeking to offload striker Vincent Janssen, who is out of favour and about to return from a foot injury.
French winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou would probably be sold too if a buyer can be found, while veteran striker Fernando Llorente has made no secret of his desire to quit his bit-part role at Spurs to return to former club Athletic Bilbao.
Those four departures would leave Pochettino with a 23-man first team squad, including recently promoted 18-year-old Oliver Skipp.
Dembele and, to a lesser extent Llorente, would still have a role to play for Spurs if they stayed. Janssen and Nkoudou would not.
Taken together, a quartet of sales and the prospect of no signings for a second successive window does not paint a pretty picture for Levy.
Pochettino is at least showing realism about the difficulty Tottenham face in improving their squad right now, but it remains to be seen how long he is willing to let those circumstances curb his ambition to win titles.