Despite the picture being painted by some parts of the media, the Tottenham Hotspur senior hierarchy may be pleased with how their January transfer window has panned out.
Yes, things took a long time: six deals announced on deadline day alone:
- Rodrigo Bentancur, bought from Juventus for fee up to £21m.
- Dejan Kulusevski, loan from Juventus for 18 months, obligatory and option purchase conditions.
- Bryan Gil loan to Valencia, no options to buy.
- Tanguy Ndombele loan to Lyon, with option to make permanent.
- Gio Lo Celso loan to Villarreal, with option to make permanent.
- Dele Alli sold to Everton, free transfer rising up to £40m with clauses.
It could be viewed too that the North London side failed with several transfer targets and were only bailed out at the end of the window by managing director of football Fabio Paratici returning to his previous employers to grab two squad players that helped the Serie A giants in turn buy class-act Dusan Vlahovic.
Have Tottenham Hotspur emerged from the window stronger?
They lost four players and gained two.
Central midfield options look light, down to four contenders for two positions, if a 3-4-2-1 is continued.
The club does rate 20-year-old Harvey White, an England U18s international who has trained with the senior squad recently.
Spurs may need him if any injuries afflict Bentancur, Oliver Skipp, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg or Harry Winks.
There are high hopes too for Nile John, who joined Charlton on loan for his first taste of consistent first-team football and who too has played for England at youth international level.
Was it too little, too late?
When Antonio Conte speaks to the media later this week ahead of the fourth round game against Brighton late on Saturday evening he is likely to explain that he is content.
Four players - of his choosing - have departed. He will have approved any incomings.
Whether it was quite enough remains to be seen though, with the Italian serial title winner also wanting to strengthen at right-wing-back and on the left-side of his back three central defence.
But ultimately the 52-year-old former Inter Milan boss has got what he wanted: squad evolution.
Spurs have dispensed with several high earners from the squad, although on unfavourable terms in some cases and there remains the possibility that Ndombele and Lo Celso yet return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Gil’s loan appears to be more about getting him further first-team chances.
Conte gets to work with a winger that he tried to recruit while at Inter, as well as a midfielder that he will have heard all about from the club he patrolled the midfield of himself for 14 years.
With input from Paratici, Spurs will know very well what they have brought into N17 in the last 48 hours.
And the opposition in the race for top four?
Manchester United: lost Donny van der Beek and Anthony Martial, while Mason Greenwood is currently unavailable. No recruitment.
Arsenal: No incomings and lost former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sead Kolasinac, Pablo Mari and Callum Chambers.
West Ham: No major incomings.
Given what has happened elsewhere, Spurs now look to have a minor edge going into the second half of the season with Conte’s side having fourth place in the league in their own hands, and new additions.
Kulusevski and Bentancur
It may take some time for Kulusevski to force his way into this team but he looks ideally suited to play the second no.10 role that the manager prefers playing with.
His left foot balances nicely with Son cutting in from the opposite side of the pitch.
The Swedish wideman will have to get accustomed to English football but is only 21 and will likely get better and better.
And Bentancur is just 24, and has been a regular in the midfield for Juventus for several years.
Without doubt, the Uruguayan is an upgrade on current central midfield choices and is close to 50 caps for his country.
The pair fit the system that Conte wants to play.
The squad is streamlined slightly to having two players fighting for each position. Just as Conte requested.
There is work to do in the summer to upgrade central defence and another focal point in attack will be needed too, while that more attacking right wing-back is sought too.
But those moves can be made in the summer, before which Spurs can give the top four a real good crack.
Money has not been in the most plentiful supply at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but in the longer term, this window may prove to be great value if it continues the real progress Conte has already brought to the team.
The riches of Europe’s elite club competition are on the horizon and very reachable.