Tottenham’s transfer policy has ensured the shrewdest period of steady growth in the Premier League era


Anybody expecting Tottenham to suddenly start competing for star players now they've had a couple of consecutive season's challenging for titles and qualifying for the Champions League is severely misguided.

Compared to other sides of a comparable level on the field, Spurs are still catching up off it. Investment has been made in the club’s infrastructure more than it has the playing staff because, as perverse as it sounds, it's more important to look like an elite club than to play like one.

Tottenham have a clear identity under Pochettino and an easily defined approach to the transfer market: buy low, sell high, and target young talent that can be developed. Spurs aren't going to buy readymade stars to peddle shirts and dance in adverts - for now, they're going to be the club that create them for the biggest teams in the world and, for the time being, that's a perfectly sensible way to work. This is a club who've learnt from the mistakes of sides who've spent beyond their means and taken the opposite path which yes, might be longer, but isn't millimetres from the edge of a cliff, either.

The success Spurs have had is in the bracket between £5m-£20m, where they've identified key talent in positions they've needed to strengthen in and bought the most malleable player possible, for Pochettino to mould in to exactly what he needs. This season won't be any different, but with what is inarguably the finest first team in the division, where they really need to concentrate is what comes after that, and significantly improve the depth of their squad.

The primary avenue for this is through internal promotion, using academy starts to plug gaps and blooding them earlier than others might, using their hunger and enthusiasm as a positive, and weaponising it. Mauricio Pochettino has achieved many things at Spurs, but one of his longest lasting legacies will be a new-found appreciation for just how useful it is to have a production line of talent coming through the club organically, which is as much a benefit to morale as it in on field matters.

Away from that, Spurs will look for the best value in the market within their price range, much like someone placing a bet will when sorting through various odds. The mentality is comparable: is it worth the gamble of what we're putting in if we get back out what we envisage? And are we going to be crying over spilt milk if we never see the return we want to? It's a high wire act that can go wrong as often as it does right, but there's far more value to be had to a club with limited resources trying to game the market than simply giving in and trying to get in to a pissing contest with sheikh's and oligarch's. 

The players that Tottenham are linked with are as good a representation of that as anything. The likes of Ryan Sessegnon, Thomas Lemar and Ricardo Pereira check every box on the Spurs transfer sanction list, and it's something that fans of the club have become aware of and embraced, as well. There's far more joy to be had seeing a young player plucked from relative obscurity for next to nothing turn in to the next big thing than spending over the odds for a 'sure thing' like Moussa Sissoko, only to have him disappoint in every conceivable manner possible.


In isolation, turning Kyle Walker - who's all but out of the door and on the motorway to Manchester - in to Ricardo Pereira is the entire Tottenham transfer ethos underlined in two deals. Walker arrived at Spurs in his teens as the understudy to Kyle Naughton, and overtime grew from being an exciting young prospect to the best player in his position in the division. Both players arrived for a combined fee of £9m, and Walker alone will leave for five-to-six times that, paying for a player like Pereira - four years his junior - as he goes.

This is, after all, where Daniel Levy truly comes in to his own. A true master of the dark arts in the transfer market, the man does not rest until the club have the best possible deal and, while that may be frustrating at times for fans who want instant gratification, there's no argument to be made that could convince anyone rational that Tottenham haven't improved under his stewardship, regardless of how orthodox his methods are or are not. A man who's entire outlook is based on marginal gains, Spurs are the ultimate slow and steady wins the race club, and it hasn't sent them far wrong to date.

Where does that leave Spurs, then? Who knows? The short-term aim of the club is to match their on field growth with their expansion off it, and transform themselves in to a self-sustainable entity that can satisfy the top tier talent they've created in both a sporting and commercial manner. There's no doubt that the days are numbered on how long the club can get away with living within the constraints of their current wage structure, but as long as it's being made clear that those brackets will be expanded as soon as the club can realistically afford to, little more can be asked of them.

It's worth keeping in mind at this point that, regardless of how talented people now acknowledge this Tottenham team to be, and how good a manager Pochettino is ranked as being, they're still overachieving. They've turned a barely road legal banger in to a supercar without financial doping, but precise engineering, and they're getting results on the track against Formula One teams. The way Spurs have chosen to advance themselves isn't the most popular or immediately effective, but in time, could be seen as one of the shrewdest periods of steady growth in the Premier League era. 

This summer, like many more still to come, are going to be huge milestones in judging just how far along that path the club have gone, and just how much left of it they've still to go.