As Mauricio Pochettino plans to add quality to his squad ahead of the summer, it isn’t just personnel on the pitch that are undergoing a major shake-up, after the club’s head of recruitment Paul Mitchell finally left the club, following his resignation last August.
Club chairman Daniel Levy is ringing the changes at the club ahead of the opening of the club’s new stadium in 2018, and having served a lengthy period of notice, Mitchell finally departs the club as one of many casualties behind the scenes, with David Webb, the club’s head of talent identification, also heading through the exit door.
Steve Hitchen is the man currently behind the major overhaul behind the scenes after taking the reins from chief scout Ian Broomfield, and he is expected to overlook a re-structuring of the club’s scouting network as the look to consolidate their position as a major force not only in the Premier League, but in Europe.
According to Sky Sports however, Mitchell may not be out of work for too long, with Rangers thought to be lining him up as an addition to the Ibrox hierarchy.
Amidst all the departures off the pitch, there was another on the pitch that has largely gone unnoticed. Fortunately it is only a temporary one though, after Mauricio Pochettino gave Spurs understudy goalkeeper Pau Lopez special dispensation to head to Barcelona this week and visit friends at his (and incidentally Pochettino’s) former club, Espanyol, according to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo.
22-year-old Pau is currently on loan from the La Liga club, having been displaced by former Real Madrid and Villarreal shot-stopper Diego Lopez. The promising young Catalan has been tipped to make a permanent switch to North London at the end of the season however, and given his age, may yet become the club’s second choice goalkeeper behind Number One, Hugo Lloris.
If that move does go ahead at the end of the year though, it could well spell doom for current Number Two Michel Vorm. The former Swansea stopper is unlikely to be content with falling further down the pecking order in North London, and the permanent arrival of Pau may confirm that his future indeed lies elsewhere.
Elsewhere, Tottenham managed to hang onto second place in the Premier League on Wednesday after top-four rivals Manchester City failed to take three points against Stoke City at the Etihad. Prior to the game, Tottenham had drawn praise from their rival manager, Pep Guardiola, particularly for their core of young, promising English talent.
Harry Kane and Dele Alli are just two of the young England internationals that have grown into key players at White Hart Lane under Pochettino, alongside utility man Eric Dier, emerging young star Harry Winks, and full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, who have both been subject to speculation of a move, one of the rumoured parties of interest incidentally being Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said:
“I would like English players (at Manchester City) because they know the league and that is much better”.
“I am really impressed with how many good English players that this country has. Tottenham players, the English players are all amazing”.
Manchester City of course have their own young England stars on board in the shape of Raheem Sterling and John Stones, both of whom signed from Merseyside clubs Liverpool and Everton respectively for hefty fees, the latter for a whopping £50million back in the summer. This prompted Guardiola to be reserved in his praise and his declaration of want for young English talent, before bemoaning the price tags often slapped on young, homegrown players.
“Believe me, I would like English players, but it is impossible. You know that better than me. It is so expensive.”
The dilemma which Guardiola laments is one that Tottenham have fortunately developed a knack for getting around. Pochettino’s philosophy for identifying and developing young players at the club has rapidly gathered momentum since his arrival at White Hart Lane, and identifying talent early has enabled them to dodge high transfer fees in future. Dele Alli for example arrived from League One outfit Milton Keynes Dons for a bargain £5million in 2015, and he has since developed into one of the most promising young talents in the country, alongside Harry Kane.
Both have broken into the international fold in recent years, as has Eric Dier, to add to the previously established Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. This is evidence of Pochettino’s strategy bearing fruit, and the extensive overhaul in the recruitment sector of the club is likely being undertaken in the interest of preserving the longevity of this project and keeping the conveyor belt of talent at the club moving swiftly.
City, on the other hand, have the money to purchase ready-made talent, but with a new stadium to pay for, Tottenham have had to set-about developing star players themselves. It is an initiative which appears to be bearing fruit, and their rivals would do well to emulate that model, despite their vast financial resources.
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