In many ways the rumour mill surrounding Tottenham this summer will be the same as it was heading into the last off-season.
Online sports betting sites will still be speculating on the club’s managerial position and the future of star striker Harry Kane.
However, unlike the summer of 2021, Spurs are likely to find themselves in a much stronger position this time around, as all they need is a draw at already relegated Norwich on Sunday to qualify for the Champions League.
This time last year the club was barely scraping a seventh-placed finish, giving them a seemingly unwanted place in the first ever Europa Conference League. Tottenham were also without a permanent manager after Jose Mourinho’s exit, and it seemed like Harry Kane was on his way out of north London for Manchester City.
Even though the futures of Spurs boss Antonio Conte and Kane are still not fully certain, all indications seem to be that both of those key figures will stay should Tottenham qualify Europe’s premier club competition, like they look nailed on to do.
After making the decision to end Nuno Espírito Santo miserable four months in charge of the club last November, Spurs found themselves at yet another crossroads. However, the decision to turn to Conte has proved to be an inspired choice by the Tottenham hierarchy.
The fiery Italian may have fired a few shots at the club’s decision makers over the quality of his squad’s after his side’s 1-0 defeat away at Burnley in February, but ironically reserving that result in the penultimate weekend of the season now has his charges on the verge of returning to the Champions League for the first time since 2019.
Conte has already made it clear that a promise to improve the squad will be a key ingredient in making him want to stay beyond this season, and Tottenham legend Ledley King also feels the Premier League winning boss will be keen to see a few signings come in the door in the next few months.
“I'm sure the manager (Conte) will want to strengthen some more because, obviously, we are not there yet in terms of being able to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Man City,” King told Bookmakers.com.
“Spurs have one of the best stadiums and training facilities in the world, and you'd hope that it will help them get over the line ahead of some of their competitors.
“We all want the same top, top players. That's where you have to be clever as a club, like the players that Tottenham brought in during January (Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski). They are two players that have come straight into the starting XI, which is quite rare, and they've had a big impact.
“They probably were not high on the list in terms of who people were thinking about, but they've turned out to be two fantastic additions to the club.
“If you could bring in two more players like them in the summer, who can fight for starting places in whatever areas the manager feels we need strengthening, then all of a sudden things will be really looking good.
“We know that the manager likes his wing backs in the system he uses, so I'm sure he'll be looking in that kind of area to see who is available to strengthen the squad.”
If you are a young frontman in the Tottenham squad, it must be a frightening prospect to behind one of the world’s best operators in that position in the form of Harry Kane.
Kane is the undisputed holder of the main striker role at the club, and for good reason as he finds himself within touching of the all-time top scorer record at Tottenham - which is currently held by the great Jimmy Greaves.
When asked if Spurs need to bring in someone to add to their depth in the striking department, King was keen to point towards to youngsters at the club rather than them going into the market.
“It's hard to bring in another striker to Tottenham, especially one who knows they are not going to play much,” King explained.
“Harry Kane is the best in the world at his position and he going to be playing every game. You have to find someone though who can have an impact in certain moments in games.
“You'd probably want a good young player that can come on and play some minutes. Ideally, you want someone like Troy Parrott or Dane Scarlett to be behind Kane.
“Troy is of that age where this is going to be a big summer for him, especially if he comes back to Tottenham and gets a chance to impress.
“I got to work with Troy a little bit, he's a very good lad. He is probably someone who suffered in terms of the fact he came to the club when he was nearly 16 and he had not had the benefit of being in the youth system for years developing his craft.
“He came as a bit of a raw talent, so he is still learning at the moment. But, there is no doubt that he is definitely a goal scorer. I hope that he can come back to club from MK Dons now and impress.”
Tottenham have loaned in and out various players this season, and the chickens are about to come home to roost when it comes to making decision on the futures of those men.
Having already sung the praises of Dejan Kulusevski earlier, King was hopeful that Spurs could turn the Swede’s 18-month loan agreement with Juventus into a permeant deal in the next few months.
“I didn't know too much about Dejan Kulusevski before he came to the club, but I've been really impressed by him,” said the Spurs icon.
“Kulusevski is a big strong lad, who is full of running. He's made an instant impact in a league where it’s not easy to come into and hit the ground running.
“The fans have really enjoyed watching Kulusevski so far, and for sure I'd like to see him stay on permanently to keep developing and improving his game.”
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After ending the season at Norwich on Sunday, plans will turn to the pre-season, with Bryan Gil and Pape Sarr returning to the club from loan spells at Valencia and Metz respectively. When the subject turned to their prospects at the club, King was quick to point to a couple of players who took their chance to show something to the manager when the opportunity presented itself.
“For both Bryan and Pape, it is there for them to come back and make the most of pre-season. It’s a fresh start and a chance to impress the manager again.
“We've seen players like Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon get game time under Antonio Conte because of their attitude and application in a time when it looked like their careers - especially in the case of Matt - might have been fizzling out at Tottenham.
“Doherty has come in and, through his performances, all of a sudden has made himself a very important part of team.
“Pre-season is important to try and make yourself part of the squad, and all I can say to Gil and Sarr is to come in ready, because we know the manager will be ready to work from the first day. The off-season is key for them, they need to stay fit and be ready to come in to give it a good push.”
Two other Tottenham players with their careers up in the air are Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele. Lo Celso was deemed surplus to requirements by Conte in January, when he left to go on loan to Villarreal - where he became a key part of the club’s magic run to the Champions League semi-final.
Meanwhile, Ndombele was shown the door to Lyon on the same day, and King had a very mixed reaction on how he felt about the two players returning to Tottenham.
🔥 Another week, another episode of #ConteCam!— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 17, 2022
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“There is no reason why Giovani Lo Celso can't come right back into the club,” said the Tottenham legend. “I've seen him up close during my team there.
“I know he can probably operate in one of the positions further up the pitch and he play in the centre of midfield.
“He's a good versatile player, but again he falls into the category of having to come back to force his way into the manager's plans if he wants to stay at the football club.
“Tanguy Ndombele is a talented player, but don't forget about Oliver Skipp. Skipp is a perfect example of a player who has the right attitude and while Ndombele is talented as I've said, he hasn't had the same kind of fire in his belly as Skipp.
“For Ndombele, like a few others, it's a big summer. I don't know what he wants to do. There is no doubt that there is a really good player in there, he is someone who could be a big asset to the football club if he decides to knuckle down and push to be involved in the team.”
You can find Tottenham at -450 with bet365 to beat Norwich on Sunday, but a draw at +600 will also secure a spot in next season’s Champions League for them at the expense of their greatest rivals Arsenal.
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