Phase one of Antonio Conte’s Tottenham revolution proved a resounding success and phase two is off to an impressive start.
The Italian has five new signings on board and more to follow as his side fly to South Korea on Saturday for two pre-season matches, after persuading chairman Daniel Levy to quit the habit of a lifetime and to hit the transfer market quickly and decisively.
It is another considerable feather in the cap of Conte, who brought the club back to the Champions League, and proves the value of a recruitment process aligned with the will of the man who builds the team.
Antonio Conte’s revolution at Tottenham has moved into phase two in the summer window
SPURS INS & OUTS
Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan) — free
Fraser Forster (Southampton) — free
Yves Bissouma (Brighton) — £25m
Richarlison (Everton) – £60million
Clement Lenglet (Barcelona) — loan
Steven Bergwijn (Ajax) – £26.45m
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic) – undisclosed
Tottenham chief executive Fabio Paratici knows his head coach well and delivered the kind of signings he wanted, with character and experience to improve dressing room attitude as much as quality.
Conte made it clear that he thought the loss didn’t inflict the pain it should. It’s one thing to apologize on social media for poor performances, but the coaching staff aren’t kidding when they see the players every day.
He wanted more desire, more character. He called for more depth to give him the flexibility to rest and rotate, and to make changes to the game with the start of five substitutions from the start of the new season.
Paratici’s recruitment has so far addressed these points. Ivan Perisic and Fraser Forster have experience of winning trophies and playing under pressure for big clubs, big footballing nations and demanding coaches, as do Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski, who signed from Juventus in January.
Perisic and Richarlison will provide tactical versatility as both are able to operate in different roles. It was Conte at Inter who convinced Perisic he could extend his career at the top by evolving from an outright winger to a full-back.
Chairman Daniel Levy persuaded to act quickly and decisively in the transfer market
Ivan Perisic arrives with experience of winning trophies and playing under pressure
There is a physical presence, which usually defines a Conte team. He loves power, and this summer of trading will turn Spurs into a team filled with six soft, steely feet.
Yves Bissouma and Richarlison are in their prime, both 25, and both used to the rigors of the Premier League with room for improvement.
Conte expects stamina and tactical commitment, a detailed understanding of his strategy, and he will deepen that in his first pre-season at the club. This is another reason why he wanted his team set up early.
Chelsea will remember how Conte railed against the board in the summer of 2017, aggrieved because his brilliant first season at Stamford Bridge had failed to trigger the summer of recruitment he had been waiting for.
Recruitment is led by general manager Fabio Paratici, who knows Conte well from Juventus
There was a positive buzz around the training ground as players started to return this week
Levy, it seems, finally got the hint. He resisted when Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho made the same argument but, this summer, the president backed his football pundits. Conte, having spent most of last season issuing veiled threats about how the club must prove they can deliver on their ambitions, may have few complaints.
Spurs are expected to confirm the addition of set piece expert Gianni Vio to Conte’s coaching staff soon and Paratici have assembled his support squad with Gretar Steinsson appointed as performance manager, Andy Scoulding as assistant manager of performance and Simon Davies as head of methodology.
All of this ensured a positive buzz around the training ground as the first-team squads began returning on Monday. Those involved in international matches through mid-June, including Harry Kane, will turn up for a session on Saturday before flying to South Korea.
The question marks remain, of course, and will remain so until the team gets back into shape. Where will Richarlison fit best? How will his fiery nature meet Conte’s demands? How much does it cost to fail to land top defensive targets Alessandro Bastoni or Josko Gvardiol?
Clement Lenglet is Spurs’ latest new arrival, signing a season-long loan deal with Barcelona
Spurs’ next job is to move unwanted players, such as Steven Bergwijn who joined from Ajax
France international Clement Lenglet, on loan from Barcelona on Friday, offers a reasonable degree of flexibility in case that doesn’t work out or there’s a chance of a return for Bastoni or Gvardiol.
Even with Lenglet, Spurs are ready to add another centre-back if the deal goes through, with Villarreal’s Pau Torres a possibility. Djed Spence’s move from Middlesbrough is also still in the works, but Tottenham have two right-backs and the next priority will be removing some of the unwanted players. On Friday, Steven Bergwijn completed his £28m move to Ajax.
There is common sense in all of this. In fact, it was a summer of common sense at Tottenham. A rare thing indeed. The signatures are put in place on time, in full compliance with the wishes of the manager. What is the next?