Walker replacement and Man United's Dier interest on Tottenham agenda
It has been a curiously quiet summer at Tottenham so far -- they are the only Premier League club yet to make a signing -- although that is expected to change now that Kyle Walker has joined Manchester City for £50 million.
Given how impressive they were in the latter half of last season, the main issues for the club to address this summer are transfer-market-related, although manager Mauricio Pochettino also faces the considerable task of preparing his players for Wembley. Here's five key questions for the club in preseason.
Who can they sign to improve the squad?
How do you improve a team that won 11 of the final 12 league games last season, finishing second with a record number of Premier League points, while simultaneously building a new £800m stadium and maintaining a strict wage budget? That is the challenge facing Tottenham this summer, and it has not proved easy.
Pochettino and chairman Daniel Levy have always made it clear Spurs are operating in a different financial sphere to their top six rivals and they must take risks in the transfer market without being reckless. For example, Spurs admire Ross Barkley but sources have told ESPN FC his wage demands and Everton's valuation of the England midfielder make that deal prohibitive for now. So what do they do? Another Dele Alli or Eric Dier would be ideal. Another Georges-Kevin Nkoudou would not.
Who will replace Kyle Walker?
There is one area where Spurs really do need a new player. Walker's £50 million transfer to City has left Levy with a burning a hole in his pocket, and the club with just one right-back. Kieran Trippier is trusted by Pochettino, and the club are happy with the Walker deal. But given Pochettino's fondness for rotating his full-backs, a replacement is needed sharpish (unless the manager is planning something wild, like using youngster Kyle Walker-Peters or teaching Moussa Sissoko some new tricks).
Club sources say they are not actively pursuing Ricardo Pereira of Porto, the 23-year-old who has spent the last two seasons on loan at Nice. So, then, who? The answer is anyone's guess and the chances are they will return for Pereira, who has a release clause of about £25m.
Should they cash in on Dier?
Tottenham sources have made it abundantly clear that Dier is not for sale. But in this crazy, inflated transfer market, would the club really turn down £60m for a player who is not as good as Toby Alderweireld or Jan Vertonghen at centre-half and not as good as Victor Wanyama at holding midfield? That is still hypothetical at the moment but Manchester United admire Dier, and they may get desperate. It would be a very bad look if Tottenham sold two England internationals to Premier League rivals in the same summer, of course, but Dier and Walker were the most expendable of last season's team and everyone has a price. Dier, though, is still just 23 and remains one of Pochettino's must trusted deputies, so a deal remains very unlikely.
What to do about Erik Lamela?
Remember him? Lamela did not play after October last season, and he is still recovering from double hip surgery. The feisty winger was an important player in 2015-16 and although Spurs missed him in the biggest games last term, they quickly learned to play without him. Lamela has also suffered from homesickness and he spent time in Buenos Aires on compassionate leave and at former club AS Roma last season.
The 25-year-old has two years left on his deal and Spurs would like him to sign a new contract, if only to get a bigger fee for him in the future. The question is, do they cash-in on Lamela soon or try to get him fit and firing again? Either way, a decision will probably be delayed until January, as they are not many clubs who will gamble on a player with a persistent hip problem until he has proved his fitness.
How do they make Wembley home?
If Spurs are to go one better and win the title this season, they need to make Wembley home -- and quickly. A meeting with champions Chelsea in their first league game at the national stadium is not what the club would have wanted after failing to win four out of five matches there last season, including a 4-2 defeat to the Blues in the FA Cup semifinal.
Pochettino must decide how much -- if at all -- his players train at Wembley ahead of the new campaign, and what measures can be taken to ensure they do not freeze as they did in their opening Champions League matches against AS Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen last season. A psychologist? A generous sprinkling of White Hart Lane's ashes across the Wembley turf? Whatever it is, the Chelsea game has the potential to either be a dream start with an immediate landmark win or a nightmare beginning that will lead to further questions about Spurs' chances at their temporary home.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.