Tottenham Hotspur surprised many this summer when they failed to sign a single player in their quest for European success.
Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino have become one of the stronger sides in the Premier League, lifting themselves into regular Champions League contention, as well as being on the edge of the Premier League title chase.
It was widely believed they’d be active in the transfer market, especially having been linked with Aston Villa star Jack Grealish most of the summer. He seemed to be the type of player they coveted, a driving force from the centre of the park with goals and creativity.
Grealish could play out wide as well as behind the main striker and when matched with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, Spurs would have been terrifying.
The January transfer window can change all of that, but it might be too late for their European hopes. What they must do is recruit decisively, showing none of the hesitancy that plagued the Grealish chase. If they’re serious about being one of Europe’s top teams, they have to be clinical when buying players.
A move for Grealish might now be dead in the water – he’s since got a new manager at Aston Villa and appears to be settled once more with his boyhood club. If Villa look like getting back into the Premier League, then the price they’ll demand won’t be value for money.
However, Spurs could still look to the Championship for their creative midfielder, because there are two players who are ready for the step up.
The first is former Manchester United man Nick Powell. He became one of the most expensive teenagers in the country when he joined up with Sir Alex Ferguson after breaking through at Crewe, but his career faltered and he wound up in League One with Wigan. Now, with a calmer and more experienced head on his shoulders, he’s beginning to meet his early promise.
He’s got goals in his locker and can drop deeper to provide assists, bringing a certain flair to the role. He’s exactly what Spurs need and with Wigan in no man’s land in the second tier, they might like the idea of a bumper payday to spread across a few new faces.
The other player who would be perfect for Spurs is Londoner Bradley Dack, currently at Blackburn. Dack is very similar to Powell in his style of play, perhaps a little more attack-minded but just as cultured on the ball with an eye for a pass, as well as a goal.
He can get forward and become a second striker, something that would bode well for Harry Kane and from an international point of view, it might work well for England too.
Dack or Powell would set them back the thick end of £15m, but if Spurs are keen to show they’re not playing at being a top side, then they need to make that statement in January.