A rash of injuries and a slew of outbound transfers leaves Tottenham Hotspur suddenly short in some key areas heading into the Champions League round of 16.
The last time Tottenham Hotspur participated in the Champions League, on 1 November 2022, Spurs fielded a squad of 23 players. When Tottenham faces AC Milan at the San Siro on Tuesday, nine of 23 will be absent from the no more than 20 players Spurs can field. Whether we want to blame injuries or the outbound transfers, Tottenham is no doubt short in position groups as the round of 16 begins.
Injuries have ravaged the Tottenham squad
Just over a week ago, it looked like Spurs finally had their entire squad as Lucas Moura returned for the first time in forever. Unfortunately, that good fortune with player availability did not last long. First, Yves Bissouma was diagnosed with a broken foot and was scheduled for surgery. Then we find out team captain Hugo Lloris injured himself against Manchester City and would be out as well.
If just those two players were out injured, it would be enough, but before Tottenham even went to Leicester, Ryan Sessegnon picked up a new knock in training and was unavailable then as he is now. Then the worst came during the Leicester City game, as Rodrigo Bentancur was taken off for a season-ending ACL injury. Making matters worse for Tuesday, Pierre Hojbjerg is suspended for the Champions League match.
Injury absences compounded by the transfer policy
At this point, Tottenham has nine first-team players out on loan, with three having gone out this past January and a fourth player, Matt Doherty, being given his release because Spurs had so many players on loan.
Neither Bryan Gil nor Giovani Lo Celso is likely the answer to Spur’s injury woes right now. Still, the extra depth would be appreciated as little as likely starters in the midfield Paper Matar Sarr and Oliver Skipp has played this season. Combined, the duo have played less than 800 minutes across all competitions this season.
Worse, the team does not have a first-team backup central midfielder, with Harvey White also out on a loan.
Of course, Tottenham still has their attacking line with Harry Kane, Heung-min Son, and Dejan Kulusevski all ready to go, but the absences in the midfield may make the frontline moot. How Spurs cope and how well Skipp and Sarr step up may determine Tottenham’s fate, Tuesday and Italy and thereafter.