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Tottenham’s astute signings in the transfer window going under the radar

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Jose Mourinho’s appointment as Tottenham Hotspur manager in the middle of last season was a surprise for many. There were question marks over Mourinho’s fading ability at the top level of management and Tottenham’s structure was also not something the Portuguese was expected to enjoy.

Tottenham are the most parsimonious clubs amongst England’s ‘big six’ and Daniel Levy’s negotiating tactics in the market have left his previous managers, the players and even his counterparts at other clubs exasperated.

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Jose Mourinho is not known for working under financial restrictions but that is exactly what he was expected to do at Tottenham.

The COVID-19 pandemic further affected Tottenham’s spending power and they are expected to spend less than most of the teams in the Premier League top ten this summer.

But Spurs have already made moves in the market and have brought in Premier League-proven performers for a relatively small transfer outlay.

In Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty, Tottenham brought in two solid Premier League players for areas of the squad that badly needed reinforcements in the summer transfer window.

Tottenham also signed two-time Premier League-winning goalkeeper Joe Hart on a free transfer. While he is an astute signing as back-up to Hugo Lloris and brings in a wealth of experience to the squad, the 33-year-old is likely to play very few games if the Frenchman remains fit.

However, our focus will be on Hojbjerg and Doherty, who are likely to be certain starters for Spurs.

Hojbjerg and Doherty are Mourinho type signings

Jose Mourinho is working with a tight budget and is aware that he can’t spend the kind of money he did at previous clubs. But the new arrivals at Tottenham this summer have the mark of their manager in them.

The Tottenham boss wanted to bring in a tough-tackling ball winner in the middle of the park as the options he had in the squad last season were not good enough for him.

Harry Winks is a neat little passer and has the ability to keep the ball circulating in the middle of the park, but he lacks the physicality that Mourinho wants in his holding midfielders. Tanguy Ndombele was a constant source of frustration for the Spurs boss last season and has been linked with a move away.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg emerged as the perfect target for Tottenham. At 25, he is at the right age for both Mourinho and the club and has been a proven Premier League performer at Southampton.

His contract situation also worked to Tottenham’s benefit as he had only a year left on his deal to run and Southampton were forced to accept a reduced fee for him this summer. The midfielder was also keen to move on and actively sought the transfer to Tottenham despite interest from Everton.

The Denmark international is exactly the kind of physical presence Mourinho wants in his midfield. His best teams had a ball-winner in the middle of the park and Hojbjerg is tailor-made for the Tottenham boss.

The Dane averages 10.59 ball recoveries per 90. No one in the Premier League managed more last season. Only Paul Pogba had better numbers when it comes to possession regained in the middle third.

His age, the kind of player he is and the transfer fee were perfect for Tottenham and the Spurs boss to take him to north London this summer.

Mourinho also wanted a right-back as Serge Aurier was becoming a defensive liability despite the attacking outlet he offered for Spurs last season on the flanks. The Spurs boss wanted a solid and experienced presence in full-back and in came Matt Doherty.

The Ireland international missed just two league games last season for Wolves and was part of a solid defensive unit at Molineux.

He is a much more reliable defensive presence compared to Aurier and the Tottenham manage craves for solidity at the back. At 28, he is also the kind of experienced player that Mourinho loves and admires and can trust to do a job for his team.

Doherty adds more physicality and solidity to Tottenham’s back-four bur he is no mug when it comes to the final third of the pitch. He recorded seven assists and scored five times last season, proving more than capable of making a contribution in Wolves’ attack when required.

The Ireland international is also a Premier League-proven performer and Mourinho would not have to wait for him to settle down in a new league. He will go straight into the team at the start of the season and with Tottenham’s reduced budget, they cannot afford to have their new signings needing a bedding-in period.

Unremarkable but solid signings for Tottenham

Jose Mourinho quickly identified the squad areas that needed filling and Tottenham made decisive moves to sort out the deals for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty from Southampton and Wolves respectively.

They are neither headline-grabbing signings by any stretch of the imagination nor would they send fans running to buy Tottenham shirts with their names on the back. But they are solid additions to a Tottenham squad that are being reshaped in the image of Mourinho.

The Spurs boss wants solidity over anything and while many might disagree with his style of football, he remains undeterred about what he wants from his teams on the pitch. Tottenham will play physical football next season and some of it was in display in the 2019-20 campaign as well.

Hojbjerg adds bite to a Tottenham midfield and most importantly, he also brings leadership qualities with him. He is the ideal Jose Mourinho type midfielder – physical, ball winner and a tough tackler.

Doherty brings experience and solidity at right-back and is an upgrade on Serge Aurier who Mourinho was forced to play last season as he had very little options to fall back on.

The 28-year-old is defensively more sound and a physical presence in both boxes. He is another unremarkable but solid addition to the Spurs squad ahead of the new season.

The two signings are the indicators of how Jose Mourinho wants to shape his squad in the coming months and years. Whether he can stick to a plan and show patience over the long term is a question that still needs answering.

But there is definitely a plan in his head and it involves solid Premier League performers who can slot straight into the team.

Do not expect Spurs to make a Ryan Sessegnon kind of signing as long as Jose Mourinho is their manager.

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