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Nuno Espirito Santo: Tottenham’s five winners and losers from their new managerial appointment

After a highly turbulent 72-day search for Jose Mourinho’s successor, Tottenham finally have a new manager in Nuno Espirito Santo.  

In what appeared a frantic and often desperate pursuit, Tottenham oscillated in and out of negotiations with a number of high-profile figures across Europe, some of whom got the fans excited, others sending social media into a storm of disdain.   

The likes of former boss Mauricio Pochettino, Anotnio Conte, Julian Nagelsmann and Erik Ten Hag certainly fall into the former category, with Paulo Fonseca and particularly Gennaro Gattuso at the opposite end of the spectrum. 

Nonetheless, the talk is now over, with Nuno signing a two-year deal. The former Wolves boss, who ended a four-year spell with the club at the end of the 2020-21 season, now immediately gets to work, with pre-season set to start on Monday.    

There is a quick turnaround following the end of the European Championships, with just 34 days until the new Premier League season gets underway. Tottenham are set to open their campaign with an unenviable fixture at home to Manchester City on Sunday, August 15.  

Of course, the transfer window is already open, and Nuno – alongside the newly-appointed director of football Fabio Paratici – will already be scouting for potential signings. 

However, his appointment will also have a drastic impact on those already within the squad. Sportsmail analyses Tottenham’s five winners and losers after their managerial search finally came to an end. 

Tottenham ended their 72-day search for a manger on Wednesday, with the appointment of former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo on a two-year deal

First, a little on Nuno

In attempting to understand how those within the squad will be impacted by Nuno’s arrival, it’s essential to first outline just what the Portuguese manager will bring. 

After a violently negative response to their initial participation in the European Super League, and particularly after the somewhat disastrous reign of Mourinho, Daniel Levy issued a statement in May, in which he stressed he was looking to appoint a manager who would share the club’s DNA. 

The words ‘free-flowing, attacking and entertaining’ were used, while the emphasis on developing young players was also asserted. 

In Nuno, Tottenham have got something closer to Mourinho, who the 47-year-old played under while at Porto. 

Typically utilising a 3-4-3 formation, Nuno’s Wolves were known for being electric on the counter attack – though less so in a difficult 2020-21 campaign – prioritising defensive stability before an expansive, possession-based style. 

Though deflated by the absence of Raul Jimenez and departure of Diogo Jota, Wolves managed just 36 goals last season, however, fewer than Harry Kane’s individual involvements of 23 goals and 14 assists.  

However, one of Paratici’s key reasons for appointing Nuno was his adaptability, noting he utilised a 4-4-2 with Porto and either a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 with Valencia in an interview following the announcement.  

Importantly, one of Nuno’s biggest strengths is his ability to get the most out of existing players, particularly the youngsters within the squad. Similarly to Pochettino, he also demands the highest levels of fitness, something Tottenham appeared to be lacking last season, with a familiar pattern emerging of conceding late goals. 

The winners from Nuno’s arrival Matt Doherty

Matt Doherty thrived under Nuno at Wolves, earning a £15m move to Tottenham last summer

Now, onto the players that will benefit from Nuno’s arrival, and there’s one name that immediately stands out – Matt Doherty. 

The full-back was simply electric under Nuno, contributing 15 goals and assists across Wolves’ first two seasons back in the Premier League. 

He arrived at Tottenham last summer in a £15million move, with the fans ecstatic having acquired what was deemed as one of the Premier League’s best full-backs. 

However, albeit playing largely at right back, rather than as a wing-back, Doherty struggled to make an impact in his debut campaign. He was below Serge Aurier and on occasion Japhet Tanganga in the pecking order, starting just 13 league matches, scoring no goals and providing only two assists.  

Doherty has an excellent relationship with Nuno, however, and a return to wing back could see the 29-year-old finally realise his potential at Tottenham.  

Joe Rodon

Joe Rodon (right) was impressive throughout Wales’ Euro 2020 campaign, though he did struggle against Denmark in their 4-0 last-16 defeat

Joe Rodon is another player who Tottenham signed last season, again in a £15mi deal, this time from Championship side Swansea. 

The Welshman showed glimpses of promise during his first season, though also showing a few serious lapses in concentration, notably almost handing Chelsea a late winner in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, with a near-catastrophic error in his debut for the club.  

Rodon’s opportunities were fairly limited throughout the season, however. He made just 14 appearances in total, having been cup-tied for the Carabao Cup and surprisingly left out of Mourinho’s Europa League squad. 

With Ryan Mason replacing Mourinho as interim head coach for the final stretch of the season, Rodon again found himself on the periphery of the squad. He was left out in five of the six games he was eligible for and came on for just one minute in Tottenham’s final-day win over Leicester. 

However, aside from the bitterly disappointing 4-0 defeat to Denmark, Rodon performed well for Wales at Euro 2020 and could find himself busy next season, particularly if Nuno does opt for a three-at-the-back system. 

Tanguy Ndombele 

Tanguy Ndombele (left) fell down the pecking order under interim head coach Ryan Mason

Tanguy Ndombele really is something of an enigma at Tottenham. Recently compared to Ronaldinho by Gareth Bale, the Frenchman clearly has the ability to shine in the Premier League. 

However, despite being called upon significantly more by Mourinho last season, the performances still weren’t quite to the standard expected, particularly towards the back-end of the campaign. 

The midfielder, who missed out on a place in the France squad for this summer’s European Championships, was another player who was banished to the sidelines when Mason took over, starting just one of seven games during his tenure. 

At just 24-years old, Ndombele will get a fresh start under Nuno. Levy has been instrumental in keeping the Frenchman at the club, after he initially stated his desire to leave following a troublesome first campaign under Mourinho. And having splashed out £65million on the club’s record signing, Levy will be keen to see him back in the team once more. 

Additionally, Nuno’s emphasis on fitness and positional structure could be a major boost for Ndomebele. He has more ability to hold the ball and bring the forwards into the game than any other midfielder at the club, and with an increased engine – if he can hack the demands – he could be a real threat in the Premier League. 

Steven Bergwijn 

Steven Bergwijn provided a reminder of his quality with a stunning goal against Aston Villa in the penultimate game of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign

Simply put, Steven Bergwijn seriously struggled last season. The Dutchman was another Tottenham player who missed out on a Euro 2020 place after a combination of poor performances and a lack of opportunities. 

Ironically, it was Bergwijn who initially started the season as Mourinho’s first choice on the right of Tottenham’s attacking trident, picked over the likes of Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura. 

His role in the team was more as a utility man, however, and the end product simply wasn’t there. It was Moura, and in the lesser games Bale, who took over as Mourinho’s first choice as the season went on, with Bergwijn starting just two games after appearing in a 1-0 defeat against Chelsea in January.

Those were in the final two games of the season, where he scored a wonder goal – his first and only goal of the season – in the 2-1 home defeat to Aston Villa, before being replaced by the eventual match-winner Bale in the 4-2 win at Leicester. 

Nuno’s arrival, particularly with the 3-4-3 formation, could provide a major boost for Bergwijn, who has more to offer than what he’s shown. The absence of Gareth Bale, whose time at Tottenham has come to an end – for now anyway, could also leave room for increased opportunity.  

Ryan Sessegnon  

Ryan Sessegnon returns to Tottenham after an impressive loan spell with Hoffenheim

Particularly with the poor performances from Sergio Reguilon towards the back end of last season, Ryan Sessegnon will believe he can fight for a place in the Tottenham side.  

He endured a tough first season with Tottenham after arriving for an initial £25m fee, mustering just 12 appearances across all competitions having started the campaign with a long-term injury. 

However, the 21-year-old impressed while on loan at Bundesliga side Hoffenheim last season and will return a more rounded, experienced player.  

Upon initially arriving at the club, Mourinho compared Sessegnon to Ashley Cole, though stating he wasn’t ready to play as an out-an-out left back just yet. 

With Nuno utilising wing backs, it could be a system that suits the youngster perfectly.  

The losers from Nuno’s arrivalDele Alli 

Dele Alli (centre) was reinstated to the Tottenham side under Mason but he may struggle to fit into the system under new boss Nuno

Now, we move over to the potential losers from Nuno’s arrival. And we start with a perhaps controversial pick, Dele Alli. 

Of course, Alli could thrive under Nuno, but he’s going to have to earn his place in the team once more. 

Having sat on the periphery of the squad under Mourinho, he was immediately reinstated into the Spurs team under Mason. To his credit, he did well. 

But Nuno didn’t typically operate with an out-an-out No 10 at Wolves, which could be a problem for Alli, who might struggle to fit into the system, particularly with the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Giovani Lo Celso and Nbombele competing for a midfield spot. 

On the other hand, we’ve already seen Alli training hard ahead of the new season. A fresh start could be good for the 25-year-old. 

Serge Aurier

Serge Aurier revealed in May that he will leave Tottenham this summer and the arrival of Nuno will likely do nothing to change that

It would be a surprise if Serge Aurier is still a Tottenham player come the end of the transfer window. 

The full-back admitted in May that he had come to the ‘end of a cycle’ after four years at Tottenham, revealing he and the club had agreed he could exit this summer. 

However, with a new manager coming in, there’s always a chance for the players currently on the sidelines to reinvent themselves. 

Yet, with Nuno in charge – a coach who got so much out of Doherty – it does seem as if it’s Aurier’s time to leave.  

Moussa Sissoko

Moussa Sissoko has admitted he will leave this summer if placed down the pecking order

After initially struggling at Tottenham, Moussa Sissoko has certainly proved a useful acquisition in recent years, having racked up more than 200 appearances for the north London club. 

However, the Frenchman started just 15 Premier League matches last season, a significant drop from the previous two campaigns. 

Sissoko has admitted he will keep his options open this summer, insisting he simply wants to play and would leave if that proves not to be the case. 

With Nuno coming in, you’d assume Sissoko’s game-time will be limited. Billy Gilmour is on the brink of joining Norwich on loan, meaning Oliver Skipp most likely won’t be returning there. 

Nuno has also been given the objective of developing the younger players, of which a 31-year-old Sissoko is not one.  

Eric Dier 

Eric Dier was Tottenham’s most used centre back in the Premier League last season, but he faces a battle for his place with Nuno likely to target the position in the transfer window

Eric Dier is at a real crossroads moments in his career, after being left out by Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 England squad. 

It came as no surprise that Dier was omitted. He had a poor season with Tottenham, which followed successive sub-par campaigns. 

Yet, he started 28 games in the Premier League last season, more than any other centre-back at Tottenham. He also got the nod in the Carabao Cup final, where Manchester City won 1-0. 

He was left out of the side for Tottenham’s final game of the season, however, and he might just struggle to reclaim a place next season. 

As stated, Nuno’s game is centred around defensive stability, which on current form, Dier simply doesn’t provide. 

Of course, should Nuno opt for a back three, then Dier does have increased opportunity to play, but it’s a position Tottenham will surely strengthen – they’ve already been linked with Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, Milan Skriniar of Inter Milan and Sevilla’s Jules Kounde. 

Erik Lamela  

Erik Lamela is the last man standing from Tottenham’s ‘magnificent seven’ after Gareth Bale signed for Real Madrid in 2013

Finally, we have Erik Lamela, who is the last man standing from Tottenham’s ‘magnificent seven’ signings after Bale departed for Real Madrid in 2013. 

Lamela again showed glimpses of his undoubted talent last season, perhaps none more so than his incredible ‘rabona’ goal in Tottenham’s north London derby defeat to Arsenal. 

However, once more the end product simply wasn’t there. He scored just one goal and failed to provide an assist in 23 Premier League appearances for Tottenham last season, starting only five games. 

Should Nuno opt for a 3-4-3 formation, the more dynamic Moura or Bergwijn would likely be preferred options. 

Sportsmail reported in April that Tottenham will look to offload a number of players this summer in a bid to make investments to their squad, with Lamela one of a number at risk.  

The winger has been linked with a move back to Serie A – it could just be the time for Lamela to finally go.  

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