Spurs drawing up parallel transfer plans with Champions League qualification on a knife edge

Conor Gallagher
Tottenham seem keen to make a move for Conor Gallagher when the transfer window opens - Getty Images/Darren Walsh

Tottenham Hotspur are working on two summer transfer plans – one for if they finish fourth and another for if they miss out on Champions League qualification – but neither will prioritise set-piece specialists.

Ange Postecoglou’s team can close the seven-point gap on fourth-placed Aston Villa by beating London rivals Chelsea on Thursday night.

With the race for the final Champions League spot still alive, Spurs are understood to be planning for all scenarios and identifying realistic targets.

They include Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, while Postecoglou is also thought to want another new central defender, with Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly one option, and a striker.

Tottenham’s business and who they end up signing will, to some degree, also be governed by the market and whether or not Chelsea are forced to drop their £50 million valuation of Gallagher, who only has a year remaining on his contract.

Everton’s Amadou Onana is another midfielder Tottenham have considered, while wingers Raphinha and Samuel Iling-Junior are thought to be among those of interest.

Timo Werner’s loan has effectively been cut short by a hamstring injury that has ended his season and Spurs must now decide whether or not to take up the option to sign the German permanently for £14.5 million before the start of the European Championship on June 14.

Spurs head coach Postecoglou has made it clear that his transfer plans will not revolve around improving his team’s set-piece record, which is in contrast to Chelsea’s approach to the summer.

Mauricio Pochettino has already revealed the fact he and his staff have discussed trying to sign a set-piece specialist should they stay on past this summer, while Chelsea have recruited Bernardo Cueva from Brentford to help head up an entire set-piece department.

Tottenham’s vulnerability at defending set-pieces was again exposed by Arsenal – only four teams have let in more from set-pieces than their 14 in the Premier League this season – but Postecoglou said: “Eventually I will create a team that has success and it won’t be because of working on set-pieces.”

Postecoglou answered a number of questions regarding set-pieces and eventually turned to one of his favourite musicians for inspiration.

“To quote Billy Joel, ‘you may be right, I may be crazy, but it’s maybe a lunatic you’re looking for’,” said Postecoglou, before later, with a wry smile, adding: “I quoted Billy Joel today.”

Tottenham drawing up parallel transfer plans with Champions League qualification on a knife edge
Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario was targeted by Arsenal's players - Getty Images/Stuart MacFarlane

On set-pieces and their importance, he added: “I’m just not interested in it. I never have been.

“Enough of you [journalists] have done enough research on me to know this is not the first time I’ve been questioned about set-pieces in my coaching career. There is an underlying reason for that which I’m very, very comfortable with.”

Postecoglou refused to expand on the reason. Asked whether Spurs fans will see even more of his imprint on the team next season and whether or not they could be even more attack-minded, the Australian replied: “I hope so, that’s the plan.”

Werner scored two goals and chalked up three assists in 13 games on loan from RB Leipzig, but it remains to be seen whether or not that is enough for Tottenham to sign him permanently.

Asked when a decision would be taken on Werner, Postecoglou said: “Post-season and the only reason for that is that it’s not about the here and now, it’s about the overall strategy. I’m talking about where I want us to be, next six months to be in a better place than today.

“Timo, we signed until the end of the season on loan and he’s part of that strategy to see what we need to do in the summer and can we do it? Are there going to be other gaps and where does Timo fit in with that strategy?

“I think he’s been very good for us. He came in at a really important time in January when Sonny [Son Heung-min] was away, then Richy [Richarlison] got an injury. We were short in wide areas. Him coming in was very helpful for us and I think he’s made an impact. But in my mind, to make those definitive decisions, I still need some clarity about what we’ve got here first.”

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