After a rather less than desired finish in the Premier League, this off-season promises to be an important one for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur for different reasons.

The latter enjoyed their first taste of a Champions League final at the end of last season and will finally be able to get back to strictly football matters after the conundrum over their new stadium that hogged the headlines for much of the campaign.

United, however, did not have the joy of a cup final and missed out on a return to Champions League football, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s apparent resurgence at the beginning of his reign quickly fading.

The Red Devils finished five points adrift of the top four and were knocked out of European football in the quarter-finals against Barcelona after they had turned around a 2-0 home loss against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.

For these two clubs, and really the rest of the top six in England, sights are now well and truly set on strengthening in the transfer market as they look to close the astronomical gap that Manchester City and Liverpool opened up on the rest of the playing field.

Just a few weeks into the transfer window, United and Tottenham have gone out and spent big to bring in two of their big targets in a showing of ambition and forward-thinking that should hold each club in good stead for the remainder of the summer.

United splashed £50 million on young Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan Bissaka their second signing of the summer after prizing Daniel James from Swansea.

The 21-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his prospects over the past two seasons since making his senior debut with the Eagles, and last season he became one of the premier full-backs in the Premier League, racking up the best tackling numbers amongst his wide defending colleagues.

The positive campaign earned Wan Bissaka a trip to the Under-21 European Championships with England and is on the radar of Gareth Southgate for a call-up to the senior national team.

Right-back was a glaringly obvious weakness for United with Antonio Valencia aging and eventually being released at the end of the season, and Ashley Young making the transition from a left-winger to the no.2 position and not exactly receiving glowing praise for his work there.

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In Wan Bissaka, Solskjaer has secured a wonderful defender, a quick and vibrant young player who will look to get on the front foot from wide areas and someone who could become a poster boy for the club in years to come and truly endear himself to the Old Trafford faithful.

Mauricio Pochettino was starved of financial resources last season with the erection of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium cleaning out most of the club’s budget, but this summer he has set about making up for lost time.

18-year-old winger Jack Clarke became the clubs first signing in over 500 days and was immediately loaned back to his hometown Leeds United, but the big one came in no more than 48 hours later.

The £65 million arrival of Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele became the club’s record signing, doubling the previous record that was Moussa Sissoko’s transfer from Newcastle.

The Frenchman rose to the forefront of French football two seasons ago on loan at Lyon from Amiens and went from strength to strength when he made his move to Parc Olympique Lyonnais a permanent one last term.

His natural ability playing as a box-to-box midfielder opened the eyes of many top European clubs but it was Spurs that snatched him, instantly bolstering their side and giving their midfield a much needed lift.

Ndombele is quick, can win the ball going back but makes his presence felt going forward, linking up the play with his forwards and utilising his playmaking ability that saw him rack up seven assists in back-to-back Ligue 1 seasons as well as a pair of Champions League goals in 2018/19.

At 22 years of age, Ndombele has the potential to carry this Spurs side to great heights in the English and European game and will bring much needed verve and energy into an otherwise one-dimensional midfield.

With Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal all yet to open up the cheque book and Chelsea banned from making transfers, Spurs and United have got the jump on their Premier League rivals and if this is anything to go by, fans can go into the rest of the transfer period and the new season with renewed optimism.

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Nick Hughes
nick.hughesy6@gmail.com