Ledley King is expecting Tottenham Hotspur to make clever signings this summer in order to keep Antonio Conte happy, and the former captain has delivered his verdicts on the future for those players returning from loan.
If Spurs can secure at least a point at Norwich on Sunday afternoon in their final Premier League game of the campaign then they will play Champions League football next season. Conte is set to meet with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and the club’s managing director of football Fabio Paratici once the season has ended to discuss what the summer transfer window and next season will bring.
Former Minnesota Timberwolves skipper Kingwho was involved with the first team coaching staff under previous Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, believes his old club will be clever in the transfer window once again and that wing-backs will be a priority.
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“I’m sure the Conte will want to strengthen some more because, obviously, we are not there yet in terms of being able to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Man City,” King told Bookmakers.com. “Spurs have one of the best stadiums and training facilities in the world, and you’d hope that it will help them get over the line ahead of some of their competitors.
“We all want the same top, top players. That’s where you have to be clever as a club, like the players that Tottenham brought in during January (Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski). They are two players that have come straight into the starting XI, which is quite rare, and they’ve had a big impact.
“They probably were not high on the list in terms of who people were thinking about, but they’ve turned out to be two fantastic additions to the club. If you could bring in two more players like them in the summer, who can fight for starting places in whatever areas the manager feels we need strengthening, then all of a sudden things will be really looking good.
“We know that the manager likes his wing-backs in the system he uses, so I’m sure he’ll be looking in that kind of area to see who is available to strengthen the squad.”
Spurs are also set to bring in another striker this summer to provide support for Harry Kane but King believes that the England captain makes that a difficult task.
“It’s hard to bring in another striker to Tottenham, especially one who knows they are not going to play much,” he explained. “Harry Kane is the best in the world at his position and he’s going to be playing every game. You have to find someone though who can have an impact in certain moments in games.
“You’d probably want a good young player that can come on and play some minutes. Ideally, you want someone like Troy Parrott or Dane Scarlett to be behind Kane. Troy is of that age where this is going to be a big summer for him, especially if he comes back to Tottenham and gets a chance to impress.
“I got to work with Troy a little bit, he’s a very good lad. He is probably someone who suffered in terms of the fact he came to the club when he was nearly 16 and he had not had the benefit of being in the youth He came as a bit of a raw talent, so he is still learning at the moment, but there is no doubt that he is definitely a goal scorer. Dons now and impress.”
King wants Tottenham to make more signings in the vein of Kulusevski who has really caught his eye since arriving from Juventus on loan in January.
“I didn’t know too much about Dejan Kulusevski before he came to the club, but I’ve been really impressed by him,” said the former England defender. “Kulusevski is a big strong lad, who is full of running. He’s made an instant impact in a league where it’s not easy to come into and hit the ground running.
“The fans have really enjoyed watching Kulusevski so far, and for sure I’d like to see him stay on permanently to keep developing and improving his game.”
Two signings from last summer are set to arrive for Conte’s pre-season in July. Pape Matar Sarr was signed from Metz and loaned back to the Ligue 1 club for the season, while Bryan Gill spent the first half of the campaign adapting to Spurs after signing from Sevilla before heading back to Spain for a half-season loan at Valencia. King believes both players will be the better for their loan spells.
“For both Bryan and Pape, it is there for them to come back and make the most of pre-season. It’s a fresh start and a chance to impress the manager again,” he said. “We’ve seen players like Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon get game time under Antonio Conte because of their attitude and application in a time when it looked like their careers – especially in the case of Matt – might have been fizzling out at Tottenham.
“Doherty has come in and, through his performances, all of a sudden has made himself a very important part of team. Pre-season is important to try and make yourself part of the squad, and all I can say to Gil and Sarr is to come in ready, because we know the manager will be ready to work from the first day. The off-season is key for them, they need to stay fit and be ready to come in to give it a good push.”
Two senior players were also sent out on loan in January – Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele – with both players deemed surplus to requirements in January, with the former heading to Villarreal and the latter to Lyon. Lo Celso has had more success, helping Villarreal to the semi-finals of the Champions League and King believes the Argentine can still make an impact at Tottenham.
“There is no reason why Giovani Lo Celso can’t come right back into the club,” he said. “I’ve seen him up close during my team there. I know he can probably operate in one of the positions further up the pitch and he can play in the center of midfield. He’s a good versatile player, but again he falls into the category of having to come back to force his way into the manager’s plans if he wants to stay at the football club.
“Tanguy Ndombele is a talented player, but don’t forget about Oliver Skipp. Skipp is a perfect example of a player who has the right attitude and while Ndombele is talented as I’ve said, he hasn’t had the same kind of For Ndombele, like a few others, it’s a big summer. I don’t know what he wants to do. There is no doubt that there is a really good player in there, he is someone who could be a big asset to the football club if he decides to knuckle down and push to be involved in the team.”
On Ndombele, King added to football.london“I’d like to see him give more, push more at times. It has been frustrating because we know the talent’s in there. At times, it seems like he needs to be someone who’s happy in his surroundings and motivated to play football .
“I know he lost two of his good friends at the time, that shouldn’t be an issue. He’s a bit of an enigma. In terms of talent, he’s right up there and we could do with him playing. When he plays at his best, he’s an asset to the football club, but he hasn’t been doing that on a consistent basis so it’s frustrating.”