World Cup will likely affect Tottenham's transfer plans
It is accepted logic that the best way to approach a summer transfer window is to do your business early. By buying and selling in the opening months of the break, you give new arrivals the benefit of a preseason and the manager the chance to replace any players that are sold.
Yet logic is not a byword for Tottenham Hotspur. Club chairman Daniel Levy likes to leave his transfer dealings to the last possible minute in order to aid his efforts at brinksmanship.
This summer promises more of the same, but for once it's not the club's management that can be blamed. No, it's the World Cup that will put a spanner in the work this summer. Until the tournament is over, very few major transfers will be completed, and for a club like Spurs it's especially hard to do business at this time of year.
While Cesc Fabregas just jumped ship to Chelsea, his reputation is well-established, and he joins a club that are certain to challenge for honours. Tottenham will be looking at players who still have something to prove. The problem is that those players are hoping to prove they can play at a higher level than Spurs can currently offer.
The end of the season saw Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw mooted to make transfers, but will both start the World Cup as Southampton players. Lallana has been linked with Tottenham and Liverpool, yet why would he or his club want to sell him before a tournament at which his reputation can be enhanced?
There have also been rumours this week that Spurs have agreed on a fee for Loic Remy. The French international is apparently waiting until after the tournament to assess his options, and who can blame him? With a 9 million pound buyout clause in his contract, Remy is a very affordable striker. If he impresses in the World Cup, then better opportunities than Tottenham are likely to present themselves.
The situation leaves Spurs having to play a waiting game, and it's one of the reasons why I wouldn't expect more than three or four players to sign this summer. After the disruption of last season, it would not be wise for the club to sign any more than that, anyway.
You could argue that the squad needs more than this number to address its weaknesses, and in some ways I'd agree. However, the situation dictates that the club prioritise key areas. Above all else, that means signing a left back. A central defender and a striker look to be the other areas that most need to be addressed.
Trimming the squad could prove more of an issue. Tottenham could easily afford to lose five or six midfielders -- via permanent transfers or loan deals -- but the likes of Nabil Bentaleb, Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Paulinho won't move anywhere while they're still involved with the World Cup. Even the players who aren't involved probably won't make a move until after the tournament has finished, as manager Mauricio Pochettino will likely want a chance to look at them in preseason.
I hope that the World Cup doesn't prove to be too much of a distraction for Spurs this summer. You'd think that the transfer targets are already set in stone and the deals are being worked upon, but major tournaments like this do have the potential to get scouts worked up over nothing.
There are always a couple of players who come from nowhere to enjoy fine tournaments before being snapped up by a major club, only to fail to deliver in the day-to-day drudgery of club football.
Tottenham signed Ilie Dumitrescu in such circumstances after his successful 1994 World Cup with Romania. He was a fine player but not ideally suited to the pace of English football. What's more, the attacking midfielder had little to offer a side that already had the likes of Darren Anderton, Nicky Barmby and Teddy Sheringham.
It would make a lot of sense to target players who won't be playing in Brazil. I would take someone like Swansea's Ben Davies -- who has proved himself as a quality Premier League left-back -- over some exotic name who will take a season to adapt.
This might not seem the most exciting route to take, but Spurs broke their transfer record three times last summer and are still waiting to see a return on the investment. Enjoy the World Cup, but don't bank on its stars arriving at White Hart Lane next season.