This season still has twists and turns to come but Tottenham Hotspur must start planning for what next season will bring and the need to push on and improve.
Every club must have a strong squad to work with but ultimately it is about the core of that squad – the trusted seven or eight players that will form the basis of the team most weeks.
Whether it is with Jose Mourinho or a new man at the helm next season in north London, the club must decide upon what shape that core will take and who will populate it.
New players will be added to that core – as they were last year – while others will be sacrificed in order to fund the new arrivals.
Spurs‘ resolve in keeping their core of key players will be tested in the summer with many of them demanding the kind of fees that would help finance multiple transfers, but as the name suggests, irreplaceable players leave a big hole in a club?
Here are the list of seven (technically eight) players who could create the core of Tottenham’s squad next season and the absence of players in certain positions says almost as much:
It’s that time of the year when the speculation around Kane ramps up to incredible levels.
However, this year more than ever, few clubs will be able to afford the money required to prise away one of the world’s best strikers, particularly one with three years left on his contract and as is often the case with .
Even Pep Guardiola has stated firmly that Manchester City, with their wealth, will not spend the money required on an elite forward.
While Tottenham need money, they also know that the England captain is as close to irreplaceable as you can get and his role as both a striker, playmaker and talisman for the squad.
What price do you put on someone who can provide 29 goals and 16 assists in 41 games, topping the goals and assists charts in the Premier League and breaking records every season?
It’s difficult to see that valuation for a player who turns 28 this summer and with his injury history being realistic for any club and that will likely be Spurs’ huge gain.
The South Korean star wants to remain at Spurs and the club want to keep him and that long-awaited new contract is expected to be sealed before the new season begins.
The problems over getting a set date for the return of income streams, including being able to fill the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, will have likely pushed back all confirmation of major contracts to when that finance is back in place.
Son and Kane’s partnership has reached new heights this season and the former, who turns 29 this summer, is hitting his prime and you won’t find many better wingers in Europe.
The Spaniard has become a popular member of Tottenham’s squad and has taken well on the whole to the Premier League.
The 24-year-old has bundles of potential and while there are aspects of his defending in the English game still to work on because of his age, he has so much attacking threat with crossing ability that has brought five assists from the left.
The only fly in the ointment could be Real Madrid, who have a buy-back clause to bring Reguilon back to the Spanish capital this summer or next for around £15m more than the £28m Spurs paid for him, if the player agrees to such a move.
Much will depend on where Madrid see their transfer priorities this summer and just how much finance they can raise.
While he has tired at times as the season has gone on due the incredible amount of minutes he has played – 3,519 and the most of any outfield player by a long way – the Dane has been a big success at Tottenham this season.
Spurs have needed a midfield leader for a long time and Hojbjerg has been a big voice and presence in the centre of the park.
If he can steer clear of injury, he could be an important part of Spurs’ spine for years to come.
Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso
We’re grouping these two players into one section here because ultimately it’s likely to be a straight shoot-out between the two of them for a deeper role, unless one of them can shift into a more attacking role.
Mourinho claimed this week that Ndombele is “by talent, creation in midfield, vision, he is second to nobody at this moment in European football” but added that he always leaves you wanting more and “never reaches the limits of the effort, the sacrifice, even the ambition”.
Ndombele has improved a lot this season and despite his deeper role has six goals and four assists to his name and at just 24 can continue to improve and adapt to the Premier League.
Lo Celso has been hampered by injuries – another player who seems to have gone from barely any injuries in his career to suddenly suffering a string of them after joining Tottenham.
However, when he is fit and sharp, he’s an energetic, forward-thinking midfielder for Spurs and has five goals and an assist to his name in a tough season.
Also just 24, he can only improve and he and Lo Celso will play together plenty of times but also battle with each other for that deeper role as both get fitter.
We wanted to get a homegrown talent for the present and the future in this list and Oliver Skipp has been so impressive this season that it’s growing ever more unlikely that Spurs can afford to let him leave on loan again in the summer.
Those who have not watched Skipp regularly this season and only remember him from his early forays into first team life as a teenager at Spurs will not have seen the player he is already becoming.
The 20-year-old had started 38 consecutive matches in the Championship for Norwich before finally being used from the bench on Friday only because the match at Preston came just 48 hours after he had played for the England U21s.
Skipp has played almost every minute of those matches as well for Norwich and he will likely return to Tottenham with a title winner’s medal and knowledge at a tender age of how to mentally take on a title challenge and deal with the pressure.
Mourinho believes Skipp will become a future Spurs captain and his Canaries boss Daniel Farke completely agrees.
“We almost take it for granted he plays without mistakes and he is solid but I am full of praise for him,” said the German. “To prove this for such a young lad in really his first full season, where he plays every three days, in the toughest league in the world is outstanding.
“With his character and how he behaves within the group it underlines why Jose said he could be a future Tottenham captain. He has this pedigree.”
Skipp’s ability to be both a defensive midfielder and a box to box player means he could play alongside Hojbjerg, potentially also in a three, as well as rotate with him and he will be a big player for Spurs in the years to come at a time when homegrown stars will become ever more vital.
This one might surprise some because the Frenchman has just 12 months left on his contract.
However, the World Cup winner is one of the few players in the Spurs squad with that winning mentality at the highest level.
His furious interview after the collapse in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb showed just how much he cares about the club and his disgust at those who don’t.
There is a belief within Spurs that Lloris will remain at the club next season and much of that comes down to the difficulty in replacing him this season with funds so tight and the 34-year-old unlikely .
Most of the British options do not fit in Spurs’ transfer profile range in terms of age and cost, while the club are open to offering Lloris a new deal to keep him at the club beyond the summer of 2022.
Tottenham will have to look for a suitable replacement in the next 12 months but next season could see Lloris still among the core of the side.