The January transfer window has been open for two weeks and yet there has been no sign of business at Tottenham.
The window has been dominated by talk of departures from north London, with the futures of Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli uncertain and Steven Bergwijn the subject of interest from Ajax.
Antonio Conte has expressed the need to bring in reinforcements but Spurs are yet to move in the market, with reports linking them with Wolves winger Adama Traore yet to materialise into anything concrete.
With the clamour for signings evident in the Tottenham dugout and terraces, Sky Sports’ Jack Wilkinson examines how Ndombele’s struggles, the decline of Alli, and Traore’s talent could get the revolving transfer door at Spurs moving…
Ndombele’s struggles succeeding Dembele
Tanguy Ndombele was brought to Tottenham for a club-record £63m from Lyon in July 2019. His arrival came eight months after Mousa Dembele made his final, fleeting appearance for the club, the opening seven minutes of a 3-2 victory at Wolves before injury brought his Spurs career to a premature end.
Ndombele was earmarked as the long-term successor to Dembele. He arrived in England with the pedigree of having played 66 Ligue 1 games by the age of 22. But Dembele’s shoes have proved too big to fill and Spurs may be forced to cut their losses in the near future.
In Ndombele’s defence, in his two-and-a-half years in north London he has outperformed Dembele in a number of attacking metrics – goals, attempted dribbles, and passes into the box – but what was so impressive about Dembele was how he balanced defensive and offensive duties.
Dembele’s dribble success rate of 77.9 per cent and magnetic close control was the stuff of folklore at White Hart Lane, and his all-round game outshone anything Ndombele has been able to produce since. The Belgian played more passes, made more tackles, won possession back in the middle third, and won more duels per 90 minutes than Ndombele.
What Dembele lacked in attacking output compared to Ndombele was more than made up for by his reliability at the base of Tottenham’s midfield. The fact that Spurs, to this day, rely so heavily on two defensive midfield players – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp or Harry Winks – demonstrates Dembele has yet to be replaced, and that Ndombele has failed to establish similar levels of trust.
Dele Alli’s drastic decline
Under Mauricio Pochettino, Dele Alli was one of the most exciting prospects in English football but since the Argentine left Spurs in November 2019, the 25-year-old’s decline has been dramatic.
It’s been well documented that Alli has featured fewer times for Spurs under Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo, and now Antonio Conte, and therefore seen a reduction in his minutes played statistics, but what is stark is the reduction of his output across key attacking metrics.
In four-and-a-half seasons under Pochettino, Alli averaged 0.4 goals a game in the Premier League, but that has halved since Pochettino left, as have chances created per 90 minutes, while shots per 90 minutes are down a quarter in the same period.
Alli’s assists and duel success rate have remained stable, but what is striking is how far he has fallen down the Premier League ranks for all of these metrics. Alli is less potent in front of goal, less creative, and has been overtaken by hordes of his Premier League peers.
With the stats illustrating Alli’s drastic drop-off, it is understandable why Tottenham may be entertaining the idea of offloading the attacking midfielder, but given his declining output, does he still make an enticing proposition to would-be suitors?
Is Traore an upgrade for Tottenham?
Before determining whether Adama Traore would improve Tottenham, it’s important to establish the role he would play were he to trade Wolverhampton for north London. After all, he’s not going to dislodge Harry Kane or Heung-Min Son, Spurs’ prolific and trusted attacking duo.
With Steven Bergwijn the subject of interest from Ajax, Traore could be brought in as a like-for-like replacement for the Dutchman, he could provide direct competition for Lucas Moura, while there has even been talk that he could be brought to Spurs in a wing-back capacity.
Were Traore to move to Spurs, he would undoubtedly upgrade the entertainment factor at the club. Traore’s dribbles completed, and dribble success rate are off the scale compared to Bergwijn, and Moura, and he makes almost five times the number of crosses from open play per 90 minutes.
But reservations arise over Traore’s suitability in perhaps the most-crucial area – end product. In 18 Premier League appearances for Wolves this season, the Spaniard is yet to score or assist, and across his top-flight career in England, he registers a goal or assist at half the rate of Moura and Bergwign.
Could it be the case that Traore’s creativity is not fully utilised at Wolves? Could it be truly harnessed by Conte in a strikeforce that features Kane and Son? Those are the questions for Tottenham to consider, and ones that whet the appetite for Spurs fans after a so far barren January.
Who will be on the move in January?
The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.
Follow every Tottenham game in the Premier League this season with our live blogs on the Sky Sports website and app, and watch match highlights for free shortly after full-time.
Want the Tottenham latest? Bookmark our Tottenham news page, check out Tottenham’s fixtures and Tottenham’s latest results, watch Tottenham goals and video, keep track of the Premier League table and see which Tottenham games are coming up live on Sky Sports.
Get all this and more – including notifications sent straight to your phone – by downloading the Sky Sports Scores app and setting Tottenham as your favourite team.
Hear the best Premier League reaction and expert analysis with the Essential Football and Gary Neville podcasts, keep up-to-date with our dedicated Transfer Centre, follow the Sky Sports social accounts on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and find out how to get Sky Sports.