The landscape at Tottenham Hotspur suddenly has a very different look from last month, when Harry Kane went public with his push for the exit door.
Kane told the club of his intentions to leave when his interview with Gary Neville was released and clarified his reasoning: there was no clear plan for a new manager, no sign the club could soon be challenging for serious silverware, and no sign of them making big moves in the summer transfer market.
Now Antonio Conte is on the verge of signing as the club’s new boss - fresh on the back of winning Serie A and four years after leading Chelsea to the Premier League title. An agreement is also in place for Fabio Paratici, formerly of Juventus, to join him in a Director of Football style role, with sights set on making sure the club’s business decisions are in line with the very biggest clubs in Europe.
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One moment it seemed chairman Daniel Levy was losing control yet here he is, steering them towards a double signing that completely changes the face of the club.
Kane still wants to leave Tottenham but this shift in vision undoubtedly makes Spurs a better place to be than when Kane set off for his round of golf with Neville.
Levy has never had any intention of selling star man Kane and that remains the case. As the club captain prepares to lead England into the European Championship, he will have some time to reassess the situation and get to grips with the idea of staying. By July he could be the figurehead of a very exciting new chapter in the club’s history.
Gareth Southgate, Graham Potter, Erik ten Hag, Roberto Martinez and Scott Parker were all being thrown around as candidates not so long ago and most of those were seriously considered.
It’s understandable Kane was concerned about the direction but Conte is a winner and has already assured the Spurs board that he will need the England skipper on board.
With Conte and Paratici now preparing to sign, the next step forward would clearly be for further investment to follow in the squad. That might yet happen to a reasonable level too.
Interestingly, Levy has been telling people that work closely with him that this is just the beginning and that he has further big plans around the corner.
It is not completely clear what he means by this but well-placed sources close to the club believe it might suggest an injection of cash is on the way that could boost their position in the upcoming transfer market.
One possible route to raise cash is over the stadium’s naming rights. Levy has been open to the prospect at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but has never found the right brand willing to pay the right money. Perhaps he has found a breakthrough and a way to help the recovery process from Covid 19’s impact on their finances. We shall soon see.
Spurs’ squad does not need an overhaul but it does need a refresh and with Paratici on board, Tottenham should be well placed to compete for the very best talent. Paratici, at Juventus, had been working in a role to buy players and manage the financial side of the club. He played a big role in the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Paratici, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic
Image credit: Getty Images
There is little point in discussing potential signings at this point but Spurs had previously earmarked three signings to improve the starting XI if they were in an ideal situation.
This all seems to have fallen nicely into place for Levy because if Conte had not become available there was no stand-out candidate for the job. His pursuit of Mauricio Pochettino has been genuine, owing to the fact he was willing to admit that he made a mistake by parting company with him in the first place.
Pochettino is just proving too difficult to get out of his PSG contract. Unless he quit, there was no sign of a breakthrough.
Conte came onto the scene at just the right time and Levy had to act now or live with the fact he would very quickly be snapped up by someone else, just as Julian Nagelsmann was by Bayern Munich when Levy dragged out the Jose Mourinho decision.
There is reason for optimism as Conte’s contract is prepared, despite not quite fitting the bill set out by Levy when he spoke about wanting “free-flowing, attacking and entertaining football, while continuing to embrace our desire to see young players flourish from our academy.”
It probably won’t be pretty. It won’t be for the faint hearted. But it will be about winning.
And that’s what Spurs and Kane crave more than anything. Right?
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