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Opinion: Why the Harry Kane saga acted as a perfect smokescreen for Spurs’ summer of progress

Throughout the summer the hopes and dreams of a nation relied on what went on inside the walls of St. George’s Park, England’s base throughout the European Championships. The wolves were circling outside in the hope that there would be a setback, with their pens sharpened and ready to pounce; but within these walls, this pressure was seemingly not being felt.

There were basketball matches, unicorn floaties, funny viral moments, lad banter and even Ed Sheeran showed up to entertain the camp. As all this took place, Harry Kane was asking questions, questions specifically relating to Manchester City and what life is like at the club.

The same wolves gathered outside Hotspur Way, Tottenham Hotspurs training ground, on the morning of August 2nd, waiting for the clock to strike at 10:30 AM – the time the Kane was obligated to arrive at.

The English superstar was a no show and so a narrative for the summer was set; a narrative that could be used as a smokescreen whilst Spurs chairman Daniel Levy went about the rest of his business.

Before a ball was even kicked, the top four for this season had already been decided by the majority of pundits and fans: Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United were seemingly set in stone, immovable objects amongst predictors.

The English media salivated over the signings of Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish, Romelu Lukaku, and Cristiano Ronaldo; but no one was paying Spurs any mind unless Kane’s name was involved.

As the transfer window erupted outside his window, Levy alongside his new director of football, Fabio Paratici, sent a wave of youthfulness over the squad. The pair recruited Bryan Gil, Pierluigi Gollini, Cristian Romero, Pape Matar Saar, and Emerson Royal – 26-year-old Gollini being the oldest amongst the group.

These are not only very talented young players, but some of the most sought-after young players in the European football.

Bryan Gil is one of Spain’s hottest prospects, an old school player similar in style to Jack Grealish. At 20-years-old, Gil has some fantastic attributes: dribbling, crossing, pace, pressing, and a high defensive work rate, are some things the Spurs fans will get used to seeing. The Spaniard is also very versatile, with his ability to play on both wings and as an attacking midfielder – a bonus for Nuno Espírito Santo.

With Hugo Lloris status as a world-class keeper diminishing, Paratici moved for 26-year-old Pierluigi Gollini, who was signed on loan with an option to buy from Atalanta. At 6ft4, the Italian is a big man which aids his ability to go one on one and can distribute the ball quickly and effectively – a perfect attribute for Nuno Santo’s counter-attacking style of play.

Cristian Romero is a signing for the present. Crowned Serie A’s best defender last season and a Copa America winner in the summer, the 23-year-old is one of Europe’s best young defenders. Just like Gil, Romero is old-school; a no-nonsense defender, who likes to tackle hard and sweep up anything that goes in behind – evident in his 10 yellow cards last season. The Argentine’s reading of the game is spectacular and he will almost certainly be a player the Tottenham faithful will fall in love with.

Emerson Royal is also a signing for the here and now, after making the reported €30 million move on deadline day from Barcelona. Emerson was a fan favourite amongst the fans of Real Betis, where he played last year, due to his abilities in both attacking and defending. The 22-year-old could be described as a happy medium between the attacking abilities of Matt Doherty and the defensive stability of Japhet Tanganga, a style ideal for Santo’s counter-attacking game plans.

Finally, there is Pape Matar Sarr: a player who Partici describes as “one of the most talented in Europe”. This 18-year-old midfielder is tipped for the top and was a big coup for Spurs ahead of their other Premier League rivals. The Senegal international is an incredibly versatile midfielder to the point where there is a lot of confusion surrounding where to play him.

The youngster can be described as having a quarterback style, winning the ball back and spreading it with his range of passing. Many might not know about Sarr at present, but once the young midfielder returns from a year long loan at Metz, they will.

“We had an objective, a target, to renew the team. Young players, young talent with big potential and their hope is to win something with Tottenham – to win something with this great team,” Paratici told Standard Sport.

“We have here a lot of players who, in my opinion, are big players that in the last two seasons have not been at their level of performance.

“So, our target, when me, Nuno and Steve (Hitchin, technical performance director) met, was to reinvigorate the team, give more discipline, give more work in terms of physical work, more organisation, and Nuno did this kind of job very well.”

In fact, Paratici could be Spurs biggest signing over the last few months. The Italian’s approach to the transfer market vastly differentiates from the “Magnificent Seven” plan back in 2013, where the North London club spent massively on ready-made stars, with nothing to show for it in the end. The new director of football has brought a progressive ideology to Tottenham, with every bit of the clubs transfer approach from here on out being calculated with the hope of maximum benefits.

Tottenham now have a combination of a manager with a specific style of play and a director of football who is on the hunt to locate youthful talent to match this style. This is a proper plan, a plan to get Spurs to challenge for the game’s biggest honours in the not too distant future – a plan that has already beared fruit for fellow Premier League rivals, Liverpool.

In addition to all this, Levy signed Heung Min Son up to a new contract and most importantly Spurs have kept hold of Harry Kane. Although his actions at the start of August suggest otherwise, Kane is a model professional and a genuine world-class player. Incoming youngsters will be eager to learn from the striker and it could genuinely benefit both the England captain and the club going forward.

Tottenham have gone under the radar this summer with their signings, thanks to the smokescreen Kane unintentionally provided. There is a plan now at Spurs, one that hopes to see them get to their current position as Premier League leaders more regularly in the future.

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