Mauricio Pochettino may have operated with one hand tied behind his back at times when it comes to signing players for Tottenham – but how did the transfers he was able to complete fare?
Spurs famously failed to sign a single player in the summer of 2018 and followed that with a similarly fruitless January, but ironically it’s when Pochettino did get money to spend in 2019 when things started to go wrong.
Pochettino signed 27 players in his five years in charge, and we’ve ranked each of those signings, starting off with the stinkers.
Tottenham actually beat Arsenal to the €12million signing of N’Jie from Lyon, all for the sake of eight substitute appearances in the Premier League before he was sent back to Ligue 1.
Cameroon boss Hugo Broos offered an insight into why the winger’s move to north London possibly didn’t work out when accusing him of not working hard enough.
“He must change his attitude and put in the work required if he is to turn the qualities he possesses into success at the top level,” Broos said.
“Even Ronaldo or Messi are always working hard; him thinking that he’s the best doesn’t work, it doesn’t work in Marseille either.”
Clinton N'Jie's shot against Atlético Madrid in all its glory.
HOW? 😲😂 pic.twitter.com/JIXzNXn8xC
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 16, 2018
“I have not wasted my time in England.” As far as an evaluation of your time at a club goes, Stambouli’s doesn’t sound too promising.
Stambouli arrived at White Hart Lane with a burgeoning reputation after helping Montpellier win Ligue 1 and often captaining the side at the age of 23.
But the midfielder failed to make an impression at Spurs and was sold after just one season, somehow at a profit, to PSG, where he also lasted a solitary campaign.
We have an element of sympathy for Janssen as being a back-up striker for a team who don’t really play to your strengths seems like a hard gig. But it’s made even harder by the fact Janssen is just a bit…erm…crap.
To be fair to 24-year-old, he deserves plenty of credit for somehow wrangling the No.9 shirt for the second half of the 2018-19 season despite not appearing for the side since August 2017.
In 2019 he was sold to Monterrey in Mexico for a reported £6.3million, £10.7million less than they had paid for him three years earlier.
This is a bit awkward because Fazio has generally been quite good since leaving Tottenham – Gabriel Batistuta even named his fellow Argentine among some of the best defenders in the world in 2017.
But getting sent off twice within the first four months of his Spurs career set a tone which never really changed.
Burnt by the signing of a young, unproven winger from Ligue 1, Spurs decided to replace Clinton N’Jie with Nkoudou, a young, unproven winger from Ligue 1.
He cost them £11million and was sold three years later for £4.6million after a grand total of 10 Premier League appearances.
But we did like his self-effacing follow-up to assisting Harry Winks’ late winner against Fulham in a rare Premier League appearance.
Helloooo u remember me ? 🙈🙈 #COYS
— GK NKoudou ⚡️ (@gknkoudou) January 20, 2019
Given it was Daniel Levy who decided Spurs should sign Clarke from Leeds, there’s an argument to say he shouldn’t even be on this list.
Either way, he cost £10million, was not wanted by Pochettino – at least initially – and is yet to play a single minute of league football this season despite remaining at Leeds on loan, presumably to build up his first-team experience.
It’s not going well so far.
As Tottenham’s record signing, it’s far too early to judge Ndombele or put him any higher on this list. But plenty were unimpressed by Pochettino’s claim that it could take him two years to get up to full speed.
We’re yet to see what Sessegnon can do in a Spurs shirt. But it’ll probably be more than Clinton N’Jie.
As above really, but a goal on his first start for the club was a good start.
In 2015, Yedlin arrived at Tottenham as a very fast, young player who lacked the technical and tactical qualities to really shine at the highest level of the game.
In 2016, Yedlin left Tottenham as a very fast, young player who lacked the technical and tactical qualities to really shine at the highest level of the game.
He only ever made one appearance, but Spurs sold him at a profit to Newcastle, where he’s closing in on 100 appearances.
He was quite an expensive signing from PSG and failed to establish himself ahead of Kieran Trippier at right-back.
Then Trippier was sold and was quickly missed.
Lopez never actually played for Tottenham, but he did give our good friend Matt Stead at Football365 the opportunity to regularly upset people by writing that the goalkeeper was an Irishman called Paul O’Pez.
Plus, he was only ever signed on loan to be third-choice goalkeeper so, unlike some of the others, at least he didn’t do anything wrong.
Michel Vorm was fine and these kind of signings are boringly necessary. Sorry.
We also really enjoyed his explanation for signing a new deal at the club in the summer of 2018: “I didn’t have other options.”
He left in 2019 and failed to find another club that summer.
Pochettino really likes Gazzaniga, who hails from the same town in Argentina as the Spurs boss and also played under him at Southampton.
“It was a bit crazy,” Gazzaniga told ESPN in 2018. “Mauricio had a relationship with my granddad and especially my dad, because they played against each other with Instituto and Newell’s Old Boys, and my uncle went to school with him when they were children. It was a big coincidence.”
And while the goalkeeper has only appeared 18 times for Spurs, he has impressed, especially with his ball-playing ability.
Signed for £4.3million from Cologne in 2015, Wimmer was a reliable back-up in his to seasons at Spurs and impressed when thrust into the team following an injury to Jan Vertonghen early in 2016.
He helped Spurs win six and draw two of a nine-game run in the team, earning himself a new five-year deal in the process, but he was back to being a back-up once Vertonghen returned and only made five Premier League appearances in 2016-17.
Somehow, however, Spurs sold him to Stoke for £18million. Halfway through the season he was on an individual fitness regime and not being considered for the first team even as Stoke hurtled towards relegation.
Starting a petition to re-sign Kevin Wimmer for the sole purpose of keeping Son happy, if anyone is interested. https://t.co/z9L7lKCyiB
— James Harris (@JamesCHarris97) February 3, 2019
Having to wait over a year to make your Premier League debut is hardly ideal. Conceding two penalties on your Premier League debut is certainly less than ideal.
But Foyth has bounced back to a daunting start to life in north London and is effectively Kevin Wimmer mk.II except with the actual potential to be first choice one day.
Watching Llorente for Spurs was at times been pretty uncomfortable.
We’ve already said with regards to Janssen that playing as a back-up striker and being expected to score goals when thrown into a team which hardly plays to your strengths, with little match practice, must be pretty difficult.
And Llorente definitely made it look pretty difficult. But he also scored a few goals – as he has done throughout his career for Europe’s biggest teams – and his hold-up play is excellent.
And his contributions in Spurs’ run to the Champions League in 2019 mean that, despite still being released at the end of that season, he’ll always be remembered fondly.
Injuries have hampered Wanyama, but the former Southampton man was excellent in his debut season at Spurs after joining for only £11million, helping the north Londoners finish second in the Premier League.
Quite frankly, we would have paid £11million for this goal alone.
One year ago today, Victor Wanyama delivered the ball back into the Liverpool net with real interest. pic.twitter.com/nku4aiyZW6
— Football Ramble Daily (@FootballRamble) February 4, 2019
For a long while it looked like Sissoko would be at the other end of this list, hovering somewhere around Stambouli and Fazio.
After all, for a club which hardly splashes the cash, a £30million outlay on a player who started just eight Premier League games in his debut campaign tends to suggest a bit of a f*ck up.
But, slowly but surely, Pochettino begun to iron out the inconsistency and unpredictability and turn Sissoko from a punchline of a right winger into a combative, all legs and lungs central midfielder.
And it worked.
Still young, Sanchez admittedly has his ups and downs, but he’s certainly got all the attributes to be a long-term success.
There was plenty of excitement when Spurs parted with £25million to land the forward from PSG, but it took the Brazil international six months to adapt to English football.
After initially underwhelming, Moura shone in his first full season, most notably scoring that incredible second-half hat-trick at Ajax to fire Spurs to the Champions League final.
We were tempted to make him No.1 for his reaction alone.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) May 9, 2019
An incredibly polarising player, Davies suffers from the fact he does not offer the same dynamism going forward as Danny Rose.
But the Wales international was preferred most weeks for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, and Spurs only paid £13.5million for him and Vorm combined.
Trippier wasn’t able to maintain his 2017-18 form following the World Cup, but perhaps the right-back used up a career’s worth of highs in Russia.
And the fact Spurs were able to sell him to Atletico Madrid for £20million in 2019 tells you he was still pretty decent in 2018-19. Considering he only cost £3.5million, it’s safe to say he goes down as a success.
Another player who seems to attract both over-the-top praise and criticism, Dier generally does what all defensive midfielders do and also offers the versatility of being able to drop back into defence.
A largely unknown £4million signing from Sporting Lisbon going on to appear over 200 times and becoming an established England international generally signifies a very good signing.
It’s easy to forget quite how complicated a transfer saga Alderweireld’s signing became for Tottenham, with the defender joining from Atletico Madrid despite Southampton wanting to exercise their option to sign the player on a permanent deal after a successful loan spell.
The £11.4million deal was worth all the headaches, however, as he quickly struck up one of the best defensive partnerships in the league with fellow Belgian and former Ajax team-mate Jan Vertonghen.
Some weirdos don’t like him, but let’s just face it: Dele Alli is a really good footballer.
It’s probably fair to say he has stagnated a little, but let’s remember he was signed for just £5million. He’s definitely been worth that.
Quite possibly the most fun and undoubtedly one of the most brilliant footballers in the Premier League.
Thank God they didn’t sell him after a difficult first season. We absolutely love him.