The confirmation of Jan Vertonghen's transfer signals the return to a familiar model at the north London club as Daniel Levy places trust in the new manager and his targetsCOMMENT
By Jay Jaffa
One of the least riveting sagas of the summer is finally over as Jan Vertonghen was announced as Andre Villas-Boas's second signing for Tottenham on Sunday afternoon.
The Belgian joins Gylfi Sigurdsson for a combined fee of £18 million, though that figure is significantly offset when you factor in the departures of Niko Kranjcar and Vedran Corluka to Dynamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow respectively, leaving the net amount closer to £8m.
Those with a keen eye will notice Jermain Defoe as the only recognised first-team striker in the Spurs squad and, with an uncertain future, it is a position that will need at least one or two new faces.
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Forwards do not come cheap though and nor do goalkeepers for that matter and news of a move for Lyon's Hugo Lloris is gathering steam as Villas-Boas targets a replacement for the 41-year-old Brad Friedel - a man seven years his boss’s senior.
With Sigurdsson, 22, and Vertonghen, 25, it heralds a return to the early days of Daniel Levy's reign as chairman - the traces of which are still visible in the current squad. Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson all carry the hallmark of a Levy purchase - young with plenty of potential.
Further indicators emanate from Brazilian club Internacional, a partner of Tottenham's, where rumours of ongoing negotiations with Oscar, 20, and Leandro Damiao, 22, persist.
Spurs look to be revisiting this strategy after seeing the likes of Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen depart for nothing - a product of Harry Redknapp's tenure. Levy deals in figures and it can explain why Spurs appear to be embarking on the transfer strategy they initially employed under the Enic ownership.
This blueprint ensured players had a resale value, reducing some of the risk factors in taking a punt on a big money signing, like when Darren Bent arrived for £16m from Charlton. It does not always work - ask Levy about the £15m splurged on David Bentley - but it certainly provides a safety net for the majority of dealings.
As Ledley King assesses his future and William Gallas ponders one last move, Spurs are set to inject new life into the squad. The exuberance of youth will run from top to bottom - manager to player - but should fans be concerned?
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Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto
Van der Vaart, Sigurdsson, Bale
After all, only after Redknapp arrived did players such as Gareth Bale actually find their best form. Redknapp married the potential in the squad with the battle-hardened leadership of men like Wilson Palacios and, more recently, Scott Parker, addressing a long-held belief across England that Spurs had a fragility about them.
The recently-departed boss said one year after joining the club: “I think Spurs had been a soft touch in the last few years. I knew at Portsmouth we always felt we could get after them and beat them.”
So naturally these particular fears may creep back in as leaders of the ilk of Gallas and Nelsen depart.
The difference from what we have seen and read so far, is that Villas-Boas has identified players that not only comply to Levy's youthful criteria, but add value.
From a purely statistical view, Sigurdsson and Vertonghen join the group having notched seven and 10 goals respectively last year and look to replace Luka Modric (five goals) and Ledley King (zero). The club are also believed to be at an advanced stage in talks with Emmanuel Adebayor who contributed 18 goals in his season-long loan from Manchester City.
Additionally, Vertonghen arrives as Ajax captain, offering vital leadership experience, despite still being in his mid-twenties.
The rumours of Lloris signing also tie in with this approach as the 25-year-old led France through Euro 2012 as skipper, while Joao Moutinho, another mooted signing, has captained Sporting Lisbon from the age of 20. The club may be reducing the age of the squad but it is not at the expense of guidance on the pitch.
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Taking a broader view, a lot depends on the future of Modric and the size of the fee Levy could extract from his suitors. If it meets the supposed £40m Chelsea proposed last summer that could be used by Villas-Boas to acquire the strikers and goalkeeper Spurs need most.
This purposeful, early business is unlike Spurs of the last few years and perhaps hints at the faith Levy holds in the system he and Villas-Boas have returned to. There is an air of optimism about White Hart Lane and it is not just because the two men appear to be on the same wavelength.