Are Tottenham better than before the transfer window closed?

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus on August 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus on August 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images) /

After plenty of consternation among Tottenham Hotspur supporters, it’s possible Spurs are better today than they were before the transfer window closed.

The Tottenham Hotspur squad that dropped points to Burnley at Wembley Stadium on August 27 wasn’t good enough. There’s no nice way to say it. Spurs missed Kyle Walker, who made the move to Manchester City earlier in the summer, Harry Kane couldn’t locate the back of the net with the help of GPS because that’s how life goes for him in August, and the Tottenham backline repeatedly collapsed until the visitors earned an equalizer. It was another bad outing at a temporary home that feels more cursed with every negative result.

Tottenham were never acquiring a proven superstar before the transfer window closed despite any rumors hinting otherwise. Gareth Bale was never coming home. Angel Di Maria wasn’t even on the mind of club chairman Daniel Levy. American fans dreaming of witnessing Christian Pulisic hold up a Lilywhite shirt on August 31 were never going to see those hopes realized. The truth of the matter is that Levy and manager Mauricio Pochettino played the market as planned.

So much has already been said and written about the off-the-pitch issues hovering over right back Serge Aurier that there’s no point in discussing them here. What’s done is done, regardless of what anybody thinks of the transaction. The assumption must be made Pochettino gave his blessing and, ideally, spoke with Aurier before taking on a project and a player who is looking to do more than just save a tarnished reputation.

In Aurier, Tottenham acquired a 24-year-old French international at a discount, roughly half the price the club earned on the Walker sale. He has pace, he’s a good crosser of the ball, he can play in three- and four-man backlines and he can also move up and feature in the attack. In short, Aurier is the Walker replacement the club needed to start ahead of the likes of Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker-Peters.

Levy went outside the box, for him, with the signing of striker Fernando Llorente from Swansea City. Understandably, Levy has not been keen on paying for 32-year-old outfield players, but this move makes all kinds of sense. Llorente has won honors in multiple countries, he’s proven he can notch tallies in the Premier League, and he should have no problem serving as cover for Kane as a member of a club that will play Champions League football starting this month. Kane and Llorente could even feature up front together on occasion.

In the months following the 2016-17 campaign, supporters and observers alike commented Tottenham needed to merely freshen-up the squad and locate somebody to slot into the gap created by Walker’s departure. Spurs completed those two missions in style. Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth and Paulo Gazzaniga won’t be regulars in the squad this season, but they could push those ahead of them and help prevent current starters from getting too comfortable in their roles.

The biggest concern facing Tottenham on August 1 was that one or more of their best players could be swayed to join some of the giants of club football. Barcelona were linked to Christian Eriksen. It almost feels as if it’s only a matter of time before Deli Alli completes a switch to Real Madrid. Either of those moves realistically could’ve occurred during the final full month of summer. Neither did, and that reality coupled with Tottenham’s transfer activities should have Spurs listed as winners of the recent window.

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New signings won’t make Wembley any more friendly for Tottenham. They won’t make the club’s Champions League draw any easier. They may not even make Spurs title contenders during a season where Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all appear poised to fight for the crown. It still shouldn’t be lost on anybody a Tottenham team that finished second in the league table last May is better than it was on the morning of August 27.

Now Spurs just need to start playing like it.