Jose Mourinho took over at Tottenham Hotspur when they were in the bottom half of the Premier League table and steered them to sixth place, enough to seal a place in the Europa League, while insisting we would start seeing "his" version of the club only in 2020-21. This was before the global coronavirus pandemic, of course, and Spurs have the added hit of needing to pay off a brand-new stadium which has been empty of supporters since March. Tottenham are heavily invested in Mourinho and, unlike at previous stops in his career, budgets are tight.
With that in mind, here's some unsolicited advice from me and James Olley: a player-by-player assessment of the squad, what might make sense and under what circumstances. Where you see a simple "Keep," you can assume we agreed and there wasn't much to talk about. Otherwise, we weighed in with our comments.
It's not just about performance, either. It's about age, wages, personality fit and contract length (we went with Transfermarkt for contract expiry dates for consistency). And there will be moving parts, too: departures or arrivals that cause chain reactions, sometimes unexpected.
* Michel Vorm left the club on a free transfer after his contract expired
Hugo Lloris (33 years old, contract expires in 2022)
OLLEY: "He has made mistakes, but with money being tight you prioritize other areas."
MARCOTTI: "He's settled and he's been an important part of the club. He'll be 35 when his contract is up; I think you see what he wants to do, and what Mourinho wants, and go from there. In the current market you're not in danger of losing him."
VERDICT: Keep. Decide whether to extend by January
Paulo Gazzaniga (28, 2022)
OLLEY: "He's OK with his role as a backup and has done well enough when he's played."
Davinson Sanchez (24, 2024)
Toby Alderweireld (31, 2023)
Juan Foyth (22, 2022)
OLLEY: "He wants to stay and fight for his place, but I haven't seen enough to suggest he can do that. And it would take a lot for him next season to be worth what he is now. Take the money you can get now, and reinvest it."
MARCOTTI: "He hasn't played in 2020, but this is a guy who was in the Argentina squad as recently as November. He obviously needs a change of scenery. I'd loan him while looking to extend him for a year, since he doesn't make much money anyway and that helps preserve his value. He needs to get on the pitch."
VERDICT: Dump (estimated fee: £15m)/Extend and loan
Japhet Tanganga (21, 2025)
Cameron Carter-Vickers (22, 2021)
OLLEY: "The U.S. defender has had five loan spells at five different clubs. And that doesn't bode well. (Harry Kane is the exception that proves the rule in that regard.) You're not going to learn anything new. Sell."
VERDICT: Dump (estimated fee: £5m)
Ben Davies (27, 2024)
Danny Rose (30, 2021)
OLLEY: "He's talking about wanting to play for Spurs again, but it doesn't make sense for either party. Just sell him; let him and the club move on."
MARCOTTI: "I agree, his time is done. Hopefully he showed enough during his loan spell at Newcastle that somebody will pick him up. With a year left on his deal and having just turned 30 last month, the right club can get a decent starter for the next few seasons at a reasonable price."
VERDICT: Dump (estimated fee: £8m-£10m)
Serge Aurier (27, 2022)
OLLEY: "They tried to sell him last summer, and again in January, and it's stunning to me that he's still there. They literally had nobody else to play right-back, but his crossing remains terrible. Sell him and upgrade the position."
MARCOTTI: "I agree you'd want to upgrade, but he hasn't been as problematic as some envisioned. He's on starter money, so if you can get £10m or more for him, go ahead and sell."
VERDICT: Dump (estimated fee: £10m)
Eric Dier (26, 2024)
OLLEY: "After signing a new contract, I think we'll see more of him as a central defender this season. Mourinho really likes him."
Oliver Skipp (19, 2024)
OLLEY: "He's still young, he needs playing time, no point in him starting the odd League Cup game. Send him on loan."
MARCOTTI: "I agree -- at that age you need playing time and I don't think Hojbjerg will be the only addition in midfield. Find him a club where he can play a full season and see where you are."
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (25, 2025)
Tanguy Ndombele (23, 2025)
OLLEY: "ESPN has reported a lot on the breakdown of his relationship with Mourinho, but the club can't afford to take what would be a big hit financially given the £56.5m they paid for him. He's young enough to learn, so you keep him."
MARCOTTI: "I think Mourinho needs to make the call here, but I'd be very clear with him. If you keep him, you have to be confident that he can contribute. Otherwise, it's best to loan him. Maybe he can shine elsewhere and then you either bring him back or sell. No point keeping him if he's not going to play."
VERDICT: Split: Keep/Loan
Giovani Lo Celso (24, 2025)
Harry Winks (24, 2024)
MARCOTTI: "I think he's at or near his ceiling as a player, and I'm not sure that ceiling is high enough to start for Spurs. You keep him if he's willing to accept a role as a squad player, which is fine since he's not on big wages and locked up until 2024. But if, and this is unlikely, a sizeable offer comes in, I don't see why you'd keep him."
Moussa Sissoko (31, 2023)
OLLEY: "He's not been the calamity that many people thought he would be, but I don't think he's technically good enough for a team that wants to be playing Champions League football regularly. Keeping him and hoping he recaptures his form is a waste. I think you can get £20m-£25m for him."
MARCOTTI: "I don't think any club is going to give Spurs that much, given his age and wages. He's been a solid starter under both Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino and, with his contract, you're stuck with him. Unless you get a sizeable fee, he's a keep."
VERDICT: Split: Dump (estimated fee: £20m to £25m)/Keep
OLLEY: "He has barely played since the restart, so you wonder what the point was. Keep him for another year on the basis that Spurs are starting to get thin on the ground in midfield."
Ryan Sessegnon (20, 2025)
OLLEY: "I really like him. Keep him and put him in a rotation with Davies. He deserves a chance."
MARCOTTI: "Here again you defer to Mourinho. There's a very good player in there, but also hard to pin down positionally. He hasn't played since the restart. If he's not in the manager's plans, and he doesn't appear to be, then loan him out. He needs to play at his age."
VERDICT: Split: Keep/Loan
Dele Alli (24, 2024)
Son Heung-Min (28, 2023)
Steven Bergwijn (22, 2025)
Lucas Moura (27, 2024)
Erik Lamela (28, 2022)
OLLEY: "He offers a bit of guile that Spurs lack since Christian Eriksen left in January. Keep him and decide later if you want to extend."
MARCOTTI: "Ideally you'd want to extend or sell at this age, but people aren't exactly beating a path to his door. I'd take my time and wait."
VERDICT: Keep and assess
Jack Clarke (19, 2023)
OLLEY: "They think very highly of him, but he barely played at Leeds and Queens Park Rangers on loan, making just six substitute appearances in total in the Championship. Loan him out, but make sure you get assurances that he'll get on the pitch."
Harry Kane (27, 2024)
The age balance in Tottenham's squad isn't too bad, but there are things to address, starting with the right-back position. If you can shift Aurier and bring somebody in, perhaps with Tanganga as a more defensive alternative, that's an OK position to be in. His versatility is valuable as is Dier's, though another centre-back in the mix wouldn't be a bad thing. Hojbjerg gives them a physical presence in midfield and that's important. You can add another if you find the right player but, realistically, only if you shift Ndombele or Sissoko.
They do need a backup for Kane at striker and it makes sense to go for a veteran who is happy to be a squad player -- that's why they were linked to Watford's Troy Deeney. A bit of experience in that department wouldn't hurt.
However, they don't have much of a budget to work with. They had ring-fenced £25m annually to spend on transfers (plus whatever they can generate through sales) as part of the debt refinancing, but that was before the pandemic. They are heavily leveraged on the stadium and the fact that they took a £175m government-backed loan means that, from a public-relations standpoint, they can't be seen to be spending excessively. So they'll have to get creative.