Latest arrivals at Tottenham Hotspur
Our summer series of articles regarding arrivals and departures at the club began with the much-awaited confirmation of the appointment of workaholic Fabio Paratici as “Managing Director, Football”, before the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo as our new head coach, who said “We are going to make you proud”.
Now we have had our first two signings confirmed in the shape of 26-year-old Italian goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and 20-year-old Spanish midfielder Bryan Gil. Erik Lamela has gone in the other direction to Sevilla in connection with the Gil signing and the club has paid something like an additional figure of £21 million for Gil, who is currently busy representing Spain in the Tokyo Olympics, after which he will join in his new club. One encouraging factor about these signings is that they were correctly heralded in press and social media reports long before the actual singings were confirmed by the club. On that basis, it seems we can also look forward to the signing of another Atalanta player – centre-back Cristian Romero, aged 23. Romero is actually on the books of Juventus but has been on loan to Atalanta. Paratici was famously involved at Juventus, of course.
The latest round of good news started with the announcement of Son Heung-min signing a new four-year contract. Bear in mind that in some circles it had been mooted that Son might have sought a new club. Thankfully, that was one rumour that has not proved to be true. Then, on Saturday came the official announcement of the signing of Gollini, who comes to us from Atalanta on loan, but with an option to make the transfer permanent. Gollini was born in Bologna but has had a couple of spells in English football already. In the 2012-13 season Pierluigi played in the Manchester United Under-18s side and featured in goal against Spurs in two games. Firstly, on 25th August, 2012 when Spurs Odyssey reporter Ray Lo (R.I.P) first visited our Bulls Cross training ground and United beat us 4-3. The second meeting was on 13th October that year when Ray first visited Carrington. A Spurs side which included Harry Winks lost 3-1 in that game.
Gollini remained on United’s books in the following season, but moved back to Italy, transferring to Verona in 2014. Pierluigi signed for Aston Villa who were in The Championship in 2016-17 when he played in 20 league games. He was on the bench when Villa came to White Hart Lane and lost an FA Cup tie 2-0. “Sonny” scored one of our goals in that game, when Harry Winks also played. After his spell at Villa Gollini returned again to Italy, playing for Atalanta, initially on loan, but eventually signing permanently for the club which reached the Champions League knock-out stages in two consecutive seasons.
Gollini is 6ft 4ins tall and is described as having a “big presence” in goal, but perhaps without the shot-stopping abilities of Hugo Lloris, who has one more year to run on his Spurs contract. Pierluigi’s first club interview was articulate (he speaks good English) and indicated a genuine maturity and enthusiasm to make a good impression at the club. Gollini has one senior cap for Italy, playing 88 minutes in a Euro qualifier in 2019 against Bosnia and Herzegovina. He didn’t make the Italian squad for their successful Euro20 campaign this summer. I personally do not think that Gollini has come to Spurs to “challenge Joe Hart for the number two goalkeeper position” as one report suggested, but to challenge Hugo for the number one shirt. Whether he eventually becomes our number one remains to be seen.
Bryan Gil’s arrival was announced in dramatic and celebratory fashion by Spurs via Twitter yesterday (Monday 26th July). Firstly, the club quoted Sergio Reguilon’s tweet decorated with the Spanish flag saying, “ANNOUNCE IT @SpursOfficial”. That brought a reply stating “dos segundos” before officially welcoming Gil with a “Gracias, agent @sergio_regui”, and then “Welcome to Spurs, @11BryanGil!”. Born in Barcelona on February 11th 2001 and with 14 La Liga appearances with Sevilla, Bryan has also spent times on loan with Leganes and most recently Eibar for whom he scored 4 goals in 28 league appearances last season (two as sub). He was awarded senior caps in March in World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Georgia, and subsequently won his fourth and fifth under-21 caps this summer. Eibar finished bottom of the league and won only five games during Gil’s spell there, including one cup game. Bryan is clearly an exciting and rising star, playing on either wing and he can look forward to being a member of a winning Spurs team.
Erik Lamela’s parting words to Spurs fans were sincere and respectful, “Spurs fans, what a journey! I felt the shirt the same way you did. These memories will stay with me forever. I thank my teammates, the people at the club and the fans for cheering for me on in every game, I will miss you. I’m going to carry this club with me forever.” Erik was the last survivor of the seven players signed in 2013 with the “Bale money”. The others were Christian Eriksen, Paulinho, Soldado, Chadli, Capoue and Chiriches, few of whom were a success at the club. Lamela was the most expensive of the purchases, weighing in at around £32 million.
Erik suffered too many injury problems, missing most of the 2013/14 and 2016/17 seasons. Most of his 95 Premier League starts were made in his first three seasons (25 and 28 in 14/15 and 15/16 respectively) . Almost half of his league appearances came off the bench, from where he did often have an impact. I personally always admired Erik for his effort and that ability to have an impact. His two rabona goals will always be remembered, particularly the award-winning goal against Arsenal last season. The first such goal came in a Europa League game in 2014 against Asteras Tripolis. Erik scored 37 goals for the club, including 11 in the 2015/16 season (his most successful) which included a Europa League hat-trick against Monaco.
Erik was always a spiky individual and a yellow-card magnet, easily winding up opponents in feisty fashion, sometimes with outrageous skills. On other occasions he would upset players with comments. Jack Wilshere (when with Arsenal) comes to mind. Erik’s first Spurs goal was scored against FC Sheriff in November 2013, when he also won his first Spurs Odyssey man of the match vote. The rabona goal in our 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in March was his last. Erik had an eventful game, coming off the bench and scoring with Spurs’ only shot on target before being shown two yellow cards in the second half. Erik’s last man of the match performance for Spurs was when he scored against Chelsea in our league cup win last September.
No doubt there will be more transfer/loan news before the window closes. Our biggest hope (perhaps forlorn) is to see Harry Kane sufficiently encouraged to stay with Spurs. To bet on Harry staying would be a big gamble, just like some here.
Just as this article was "going to press" came the confirmation that Toby Alderweireld was leaving for Al-Duhail SC in Qatar. This sad news warrants inclusion in a further article which will follow soon. Another rumour that has previously been aired is thus confirmed, which does renew promise of a replacement such as Romero to come!
· 1. Paratici arrives and departing players listed
· 2. Nuno says, "We are going to make you proud!"
· 4. Farewell to a favourite
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