Sort out Harry Kane’s future, get Dele Alli firing again, overhaul a leaky defence AND make a call on Hugo Lloris’ No 1 spot… with just a week left before the new season starts, Nuno Espirito Santo has LOTS of problems to solve at Tottenham
- Tottenham kick off their Premier League season against Man City on August 15
- New boss Nuno Espirito Santo still has a number of problems that need solving
- Harry Kane’s future is up in the air while Hugo Lloris is not guaranteed a start
- Spurs are still lacking depth at centre-back and also need cover up front
- Sportsmail looks through pressing topics Nuno needs to address this summer
Whoever took the Tottenham job this summer was going to have a tough task on their hands this season – and Nuno Espirito Santo will be under no illusions that he is going to be up against it.
Up against it with the fans – who had given him the most lukewarm of receptions after his appointment after he had become what appeared to be the 10th or 11th choice by chairman Daniel Levy.
Up against it with Harry Kane – who has already made it clear he wants out of north London after a dismal campaign saw them slump to seventh place and miss out on a trophy once again.
And certainly given no favours with the toughest possible start to the Premier League against reigning champions Manchester City – and Nuno still has a number of problems to address in his squad – as well as key areas he needs to strengthen – to transform his group of underachievers into contenders again.
So with just over a week until the campaign begins on August 15, what are the major concerns for Nuno to look at as he attempts to whip his side into shape?
New Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo has a number of issues to attend to this summer
KANE FUTURE STILL IN DOUBT
This is going the be the question mark that lingers over the club all summer long.
The story isn’t going away any time soon, unless Levy and Nuno can convince their star striker to commit his future for another year, the England skipper is going to be linked with a move away until the window slams shut.
It gives an aura of uncertainty that Spurs really don’t need right now, when Nuno is attempting to build from the rubble of the failed Jose Mourinho era.
When Kane returns from his rest after his Euro 2020 campaign with England, the head coach should have more clarity on where his head’s at. One way or another, it’s important that the squad are not unsettled ongoing doubts about Kane.
Harry Kane’s future remains in doubt and the club cannot afford ongoing uncertainty
We know that Manchester City are keen to make him their leading man up front and have already made a bid of around £100m – with Pep Guardiola confirming the club’s interest and admitting the ball is in Tottenham’s court.
Kane ramped up tensions between himself and Spurs after failing to appear at training this week – although he has since come out to defend his name and deny claims he would go on strike.
With Levy a hardball negotiator, it will likely cost around £150m to convince him to sell. Should City agree to cough up that gargantuan amount – which would easily be a Premier League record, Nuno might be tempted to bite the bullet and allow him to leave so the rest of the team can move on.
He secured a mini victory by agreeing a new contract with Son Heung-min Son, and should Kane end up departing the coach could build a team around the South Korean – although he would also need to embark on the daunting task of trying to replace the forward – who has netted more than 200 times in his eight years playing for Tottenham.
NUNO STAMPING HIS MARK
The former Wolves boss has four pre-season friendlies under his belt now and he will be getting an idea of how he wants his team to play – even though a handful of players still won’t have returned after involvements in Euro 2020.
The squad are adapting to Nuno’s style of play after a 3-0 win over Colchester and a 3-1 victory over MK Dons – although the results will be the last thing the new coach is concerned about.
He played a 4-2-3-1 in the first friendly win before deploying a 4-3-3 at MK Dons – but he was renowned for his 3-4-3 system while coaching at Molineux.
Espirito Santo will be keen for his new players to adapt to his style and tactics quickly
He has tinkered with formations in pre-season but could opt to use a 3-4-3 system
He stuck with 4-3-3 in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea – where his side fought back from 2-0 down to secure a draw.
It seems that Nuno is looking to switch things up and keep things interesting with a number of different tactical options, and he certainly has the personnel to play with three at the back.
Full back Matt Doherty knows the system well and could be revitilised on the right flank while Sergio Reguilon could fill in on the left.
GET ALLI BACK ON FORM
Nuno also faces a number of decisions about who slots into his midfield – but in particular Dele Alli.
The former MK Dons starlet was frozen out under Jose Mourinho but has started both recent friendlies, scoring against Colchester and MK Dons before picking up an assist against Chelsea – looking hungry to reclaim a promising career that has recently gone stale.
When Mourinho arrived in 2019, he accused Alli of going missing in training, asking him if he was ‘Dele, or Dele’s brother’.
Dele Alli has the chance to get back on top form if he can impress his new boss Espirito Santo
The Portuguese boss has given Alli a chance to show his worth after years of drab displays
The 25-year-old still has so much time to rediscover his best form for Spurs after a brilliant start to his career saw him pinpointed as a future England icon following a surge of spectacular goals and becoming one of the first names on the team-sheet under Mauricio Pochettino.
He has come close to an exit on a number of occasions, with PSG said to be interested, but Alli now has a chance to start afresh with a new coach and put himself back in the frame for England contention, with the 2022 World Cup on the horizon next year.
Tottenham never really replaced Christian Eriksen after his departure to Inter Milan, and have been lacking that creative force behind the striker – but Alli can act as a new signing by reminding Spurs fans just how much quality he possesses.
CLEAR OUT THE DEADWOOD
Kane is a player Nuno will do everything to keep his hands on – but there are several fringe stars who he could cash in on as he embarks on a clearout of the squad and get rid of some of those players who underperformed last season.
Toby Alderweireld has already left – although he wouldn’t have been viewed as deadwood – while Erik Lamela has headed to Sevilla, but Spurs fans will have identified a few more players who could be jettisoned too.
Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn struggled for form last season – scoring just once, and that came during the finale home game of the campaign against Aston Villa.
Steven Bergwijn could be on his way out of Spurs as part of a clearout of the deadwood
Erik Lamela has already left for Sevilla and Nuno will identify a few more surplus stars
Aside from his memorable debut goal against Manchester City in 2019-20, the move hasn’t really worked out for Bergwijn since his switch from PSV and he has been linked with a move to Ajax.
There are also bound to be question marks over Serge Aurier – who has already confirmed he is thinking about an exit, Davinson Sanchez – reportedly offered as a makeweight in a deal for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde – as well as midfielders Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko.
WILL LLORIS STAY AS NO 1?
The France captain has served Tottenham well for nearly a decade but has had his fair share of blunders in recent seasons.
He still retains the support of many Spurs fans but has incurred their wrath at times for a couple of howlers, and the signing of Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini raises the question of whether Nuno sees him as first choice.
He has not featured in any of Tottenham’s friendlies so far and was left on the bench for the win at MK Dons despite being available. However, Lloris is thought to be carrying a knock, and it might have also been a way to give minutes to young shot stopper Alfie Whiteman as Lloris continues his recovery from the Euros.
Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini has arrived from Atalanta and could threaten Hugo Lloris
Lloris turns 35 this December and the club may have to make a decision about his future soon
Spurs have the option to make Gollini’s deal permanent during the season and the Italian played nearly 30 times for the Serie A outfit last season, so he won’t be coming in happy to play second fiddle.
Gollini started in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea and stood out by making a handful of smart saves to stop the Blues from going further ahead.
Lloris is turning 35 this December and the club will have to think about replacing their skipper at some point. Should Gollini impress in the games where he is called upon then Nuno will have a big decision to make.
OVERHAUL THE LEAKY DEFENCE
The sale of Toby Alderweireld marked the end of an era – the Belgian ended his six year stay in north London after joining Qatari side Al-Duhail.
He had become one of the top rated defenders in the Premier league after a spell that saw him as one of the most undisputed players on the team-sheet.
But slowly his quality began to fade, and with the player moving into his thirties, the club opted to cash in while they could. His exit makes him one of the last of the ‘old guard’ who had formed such a formidable defence in recent years – previously lining up alongside the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose.
Now Nuno will have to craft a new-look defence, with Spurs looking particularly weak at the back last season as they capitulated and surrendered leads a number of times.
Tottenham have signed Cristian Romero (L), who could act as a replacement for Toby Alderweireld (R)
Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu is also on Tottenham’s list as part of a defensive overhaul
Finding a direct replacement for Toby has to be the priority – a leader in defence who can organise the pack, and new signing Cristian Romero looks like the most suitable candidate. Voted the best defender in Italy last season, he can step up and become the new leader in Tottenham’s defence.
The Argentine, who was on loan at Atalanta from Juventus last season, has just come off the back of winning the Copa America and is a quality option to fill in at the back. Spurs secured the signature of the 23-year-old this week, and are also keen on Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu as they take advantage of new director of football Fabio Paratici’s connections in Italy.
However, there are a handful of other underperformers in defence, including Eric Dier – who was dropped for large spells last season – and Sanchez, and he may opt to part with at least one of those players.
Spurs should be looking for at least two new centre-backs as a result, while cover could be needed at right back too should Aurier depart.
SECURE SOME FIREPOWER
Scoring goals was not a problem for Spurs last year – largely thanks to the endeavours of Kane, who was top scorer, and Son – who chipped in with 22 – but the club will have to think about securing some back up should Kane leave.
Last season they signed Carlos Vinicius on loan from Benfica, but they club decided against signing him on a permanent deal after failing to dazzle when given the chance, and back he went to Portugal.
All of the top teams have been able to rely on a quality back up striker to carry them through the difficult moments, but Spurs have sorely lacked that in recent years – and that has hurt them when Kane and Son have picked up injuries.
Spurs are looking short up front after back-up striker Carlos Vinicius returned back to Benfica
Gabriel Jesus is reportedly being weighed up as a possible makeweight in a deal for Kane
Man City have been able to rely on Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus while Chelsea have called upon Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud.
Last season Nuno’s Wolves side really struggled when striker Raul Jimenez was ruled out for the season with a sickening head injury, and he’ll be eager to ensure there are contingency plans in place should Kane leave – or miss a chunk of the campaign.
City’s Jesus has been mentioned as a possible option in cash plus player deal if Kane leaves for City, while Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic has also been linked.
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