TCC View: Tottenham must be heartbroken they didn't sign £40m Chelsea player when they had the chance now

Football teams are generally either reminiscing about faded memories or looking ahead to the future.

Chelsea fall very much under the second category, with new successes constantly around the corner.

Tottenham Hotspur meanwhile continue to look back at the glory days of old, wondering when it will be their time in the spotlight.

Tottenham turning the sandtimer once again

Last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat meant another chance at silverware was washed away, swirled together with the other near misses and failed opportunities.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Spurs fans can only revert to that 2008 League Cup victory over Chelsea as a way of reminding themselves that they actually used to win things.

Since then, a hattrick of top-three Premier League finishes and a Champions League runners-up medal are as close as they’ve come to ultimate glory.

Meanwhile, the blue quarter of London are on the verge of lifting their sixth trophy in seven years.

They did so by putting on a performance very much of modern nature, as opposed to their host’s ancient approach.

Quality Kova

One man who epitomised Chelsea’s contemporary display controlled the game as any up-to-date player should.

Mateo Kovacic danced and darted past Antonio Conte’s midfield with elegancy of the highest order.

The 27-year-old was virtually untouched throughout the contest, other than when he was sent to the surface by a foul.

Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

According to, he achieved a 94.1% passing accuracy, had 92 touches, completed two tackles and made one key pass.

Spurs shown up

In contrast, Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had an 86% passing accuracy, whilst Harry Winks managed just 81.3%.

59 times Winks touched the ball compared to Hojbjerg’s 71, with just one key pass between them.

The pair’s combined tackles did tally to five, but only because they were forced into defensive situations by Tuchel’s men.  

The disparity in class between Tottenham’s two midfielders and Kovacic was clear for all to see.

Whilst the latter moved his game forward, his opponents could only take a step in the opposite direction.

Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

What could have been

It gave Spurs a timely reminder of what they’ve lacked since failing to sign the Croatian international back in 2018.

AS reported that the two capital city clubs were jostling for Kovacic’s signature after his debut spell at Chelsea on loan from Real Madrid came to an end.

That following summer, the Blues agreed a £40m (BBC) deal to acquire the man from Madrid permanently.

Meanwhile, Spurs sold Victor Wanyama and Christen Eriksen, two key figures in the 2015/16 title charge under Mauricio Pochettino.

They replaced these departed midfielders with Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Gedson Fernandes on loan.

Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Fernandes left after a year, Ndombele is virtually on the way out and Lo Celso was dominated by Kovacic yesterday evening.

Another missed moment Tottenham must look back on in anguish.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.