It wasn’t so long ago that Tottenham were a middling team with dreams of muscling in on the elite. It might only be months before they find themselves there again.
Harry Kane can’t even be bothered to train after every top manager dismissed the club's advances, making the decision to part company with Mauricio Pochettino in 2019, just months after reaching the Champions League final, even more ludicrous.
One crumb of comfort is that the cloud of pessimism that hovers over them is arguably surpassed by the one that hangs down the road at Arsenal, but it promises to be a long season for a club who must play in the humiliatingly-titled UEFA Europa Conference League and face Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their first six games.
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  • Pierluigi Gollini (Atalanta, loan)
  • Bryan Gil (Sevilla, £21.6m + Erik Lamela)
  • Cristian Romero (Atalanta, £42.5m)
It's impossible to mention Romero without also revealing he was voted the best defender in Serie A last season. Tottenham's success under Pochettino was built on a sturdy defence - Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were once the best pairing in the division - so Romero has big shoes to fill, or tiny shoes if you look at last season.
The arrival of Fabio Paratici in the Tottenham boardroom also helped land Gollini, who will provide competition for Hugo Lloris in goal and look to assert himself as the future number one.
Gil was relegated with Eibar last season while on loan from Sevilla, scoring just four times in La Liga. However, he carries a different threat to Spurs' other attacking midfielders who typically like to cut inside - he's a so-called 'old-school winger'.

Cristian Romero (Atalanta)

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  • Danny Rose (Watford, free)
  • Paulo Gazzaniga (released)
  • Juan Foyth (Villarreal, £13m)
  • Erik Lamela (Sevilla, part of Gil swap deal)
  • Toby Alderweireld (Al-Duhail, £13m)
  • Joe Hart (Celtic, £1m)
Alderweireld's decline has been swift. Once arguably the greatest centre-back in the Premier League before Virgil van Dijk swapped Southampton for Liverpool, he never quite looked comfortable after the club found a temporary home at Wembley Stadium.
As for the others, only Lamela - scorer of the most 'Spursy' goal in history, an unforgettable rabona in a derby defeat - will be truly missed.

Erik Lamela scores an outrageous rabona

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KEY MAN – Harry Kane

Oh how those words must sting. It’s incredible how fast seven goal-fuelled years – plus many more in the youth ranks and out on loan – can evaporate when you decide to pull the plug. Kane insists he “never refused to train” but it’s hard to sympathise with a striker who signed a six-year deal in 2018 and swung by Florida on his way home from the Bahamas as pressure mounted for him to return.
But he still remains Tottenham’s key player, at least for now. He might lack the mobility he once had, no longer capable or willing to ruffle up defenders in the channels, but no one in the Premier League can rival his finishing ability – and he’s the division’s top creator now too. Spurs have to decide whether it’s worth clinging to a player whose dreams lie elsewhere in the knowledge: a) his value will fall after this summer, and b) it will likely deter any other big names from joining if they see how hard it is to leave.

YOUNG STAR – Oliver Skipp

It would have been a ridiculous call just 12 months ago, but ask any Norwich fan about Skipp and you will get a sense of his recent rise. After playing a key role in the Canaries’ return to the Premier League, the 20-year-old is now in contention for a big role at Tottenham this season.
Spurs aren’t exactly short of options in central midfield but with Tanguy Ndombele missing out in the preseason ‘friendly’ win over Arsenal, and Skipp impressing, it seems Nuno is ready to reject calls to send him out on loan again and make the England U21 international part of his plans.

Oliver Skipp celebrates for Norwich City

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Sure, he’s broken out before, but this feels like the defining season of Dele Alli’s career. Mourinho is gone, he’s the scapegoat no more and has had a summer away to fully recharge. He hasn’t been great since 2018 and those back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year awards feel a long time ago.
At his best, Alli runs beyond the striker, stretches defences and has the eye – and ability – for the spectacular. At his worst, he slows the game down and tries fancy footwork on the halfway line. At 25, there is still time to fulfil his undoubted potential but he needs to start firing now.

MANAGER SITUATION – He wasn’t first choice, or second, or third…

It’s not Nuno’s fault that he was the 300th choice to replace Mourinho. Well, it partly is due to his awful final season at Wolves, but he’s shown real humility since his arrival at Spurs and made few headlines like his predecessor.
Few are expecting him to steer Tottenham back towards the top four – let alone challenging for the league – so he probably starts the season with the least pressure of any manager in the top six. Then again, Daniel Levy will have already forgotten that no one actually wants the job and could easily have him out by Christmas, especially if it all goes wrong over in Paris…

Son Heung-min and Nuno | Tottenham Hotspur

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This Tottenham squad had the confidence battered out of them by Mourinho, so it’s easy to forget that it's still packed with talent. Kane’s departure is far from certain and with Son Heung-min still at the club, they can cause sides problems.
Romero looks a great buy at the back and there’s still the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Giovani Lo Celso, Sergio Reguilon and Lloris around to add some star-quality to this side. Enough to make the top four? Nope. But they could bring up the chasing pack.
Prediction: Fifth
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