Tottenham rebuild takes key step forwards as club recoups Steve Bergwijn fee ahead of Clement Lenglet arrival

Tottenham rebuild takes key step forwards as club recoups Steve Bergwijn fee ahead of Clement Lenglet arrival


Bergwijn has completed a return to the Netherlands with Ajax, while Lenglet is set to join Spurs from Barcelona on a season-long loan deal.

Spurs recouped the £27million they paid PSV Eindhoven for Bergwijn in January 2020 after the Dutch winger failed to make the grade under Antonio Conte.

Bergwijn had his moments for Spurs, including brilliant goals against both Manchester clubs and an unbelievable stoppage-time double against Leicester last season, completing one of the great Premier League comebacks.

Conte saw something in Bergwijn, talking him up as a possible understudy to Harry Kane, and perhaps the 24-year-old deserved more minutes from the bench or even a go at wing-back last season. With confidence and game-time, he should be a star for Ajax back in the Eredivisie.

For all his qualities, however, Bergwijn was not enough of a “killer” in the final third for Conte, and he will be remembered at Spurs for his misses as well as his hits, notably the two big chances he squandered in the 2-1 defeat at Liverpool in December 2020, which sparked their slide down the table under Jose Mourinho.

There was also a feeling that he did not respond to Conte as well as some other players and was not prepared to “give everything”, as the Italian demands.

It feels somewhat significant that Bergwijn was Mourinho’s first permanent signing in January 2020 and the first out under Conte, as the head coach and managing director Fabio Paratici continue to clean up the club’s previous mistakes in the transfer market.

Between the Champions League final defeat in 2019 and Conte’s appointment in November, Spurs signed 18 senior players on permanent or loan deals.

Of these, only Cristian Romero will be guaranteed a starting spot this season, with Ryan Sessegnon and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg set to be useful squad players.

Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso are not part of the head coach’s plans, while Sergio Reguilon and Joe Rodon, two other Mourinho signings, have effectively been replaced in the squad by Ivan Perisic and Lenglet, respectively, and are available to leave this summer.

Bryan Gil and Emerson Royal, signed under Nuno Espirito Santo, also face uncertain futures and could leave for the right price.

The club’s summer business has had the effect of finally and conclusively lifting the hangover from the Mauricio Pochettino era, but Conte’s most used players next season will either be stalwarts of the Argentine’s reign – Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier, Ben Davies, Heung-min Son – or arrivals in the past six months.

Lenglet may appear an underwhelming addition given Spurs’ unsuccessful pursuit of Inter Milan’s £50million-rated Alessandro Bastoni, who was reluctant to leave the Italian club, but there are reasons to think the France international is another astute signing.

At 27, he has big club experience, having made over 150 appearances for Barcelona, and has the qualities needed to play on the left of Conte’s back three.

There is already much about this transfer window that is unprecedented for Daniel Levy.

He is left footed and comfortable on the ball, and is another player who should be able to adapt quickly to his new environment – following the signings of veterans Perisic and Fraser Forster, and Premier League-proven Yves Bissouma and Richarlison.

Lenglet has struggled at Barca of late, allowing mistakes to creep into his game, but there is expectation that Conte will be able to bring out the best in him, as he already has with Dier, Ben Davies and others.

Spurs are still in the market for a right wing-back, with negotiations ongoing for Middlesbrough’s Djed Spence, and a creative player, and they want to push ahead with ongoings, particularly as Conte is wary on unsettled influences in the squad.

There is already much about this transfer window that is unprecedented for Spurs under chairman Daniel Levy, including the profile of their signings and the speed of their business.

These changes are a reflection of the club’s position of financial strength and the influence of Conte, who will not let up in his bid to reshape the squad in his own image in the final weeks of the window.

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