No silverware is awarded to the best Premier League team over two seasons, but if there was a trophy to honor that distinction, it would go to Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs have amassed the most points – an impressive 153 – the last two campaigns, having finished third with 70 points in 2015-16 and locked up second place this season with 83 points. Tottenham – behind Harry Kane’s four-goal outburst – added three more points with Thursday’s 6-1 destruction of Leicester City.
There are several reasons why Spurs have not been “so Spursy,” the derisive phrase used by critics and opposing supporters to ridicule Tottenham’s tendency for stumbling at the most inopportune moment. At the forefront of this new club identity is manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose steady hand has allowed Spurs to move forward from the mistakes of the failed Andre Villas-Boas tenure. At the core of the Argentine’s genius has been the creation of arguably the Premiership’s most complete team anchored by the league’s stingiest defense the past two seasons (just 60 goals conceded in 75 games).
The most revelatory aspect has been the attack. No Premier League team boasts three 20-goal scorers in all competitions like Tottenham with Kane (29), Dele Alli (21) and Son Heung-min (20). Kane took over the league scoring lead with 26 with his four goals in Thursday’s rout, which also saw Son bag a brace to join Kane and Alli in the 20-goal club.
Pochettino’s Spurs have the makings of a Premier League champion. The big question is whether he or his young stars will stick around to help win the club’s first top-flight title since 1961.
That’s why Tottenham is about to enter its most crucial offseason since 2013, when it sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and reinvested most of the then-world-record $130 million transfer fee into assets like Christian Eriksen and busts like Roberto Soldado. Alli, the two-time PFA Young Player of the Year winner, has been linked with Real Madrid since his breakout last season. Kane has been rumored to be Manchester United’s replacement for Zlatan Ibrahmovic, whose future with the Red Devils has been clouded by a lengthy recover from knee surgery. And, despite confirming his desire to stay in North London, Pochettino continually finds his name on wish lists of bigger clubs (namely Barcelona and Inter Milan).
Both Kane, 24, and Alli, 21, have seemingly pledged their commitment to Pochettino’s project. But even when Alli calls Spurs “a fantastic club to be a part of,” he feeds the supporters’ paranoia by adding comments like “You can never say what’s going to happen in the future.”
Kane, who signed a contract extension last December that will keep him at Tottenham through 2022, seems to be the least likely flight risk. But transfer talk is but a whisper right now. The biggest test for Spurs will start once the final whistle blows after its last game of the season at Hull City on Sunday and the summer transfer window opens July 1. Because if Tottenham is to sustain this new success – and build upon it – then chairman Daniel Levy and the Spurs board must resist the temptation to sell Alli or, more importantly, Kane, “one of the best strikers in the world,” according to Pochettino. They need to keep that last guy around, too.
“We will keep the players we want to keep, and we will sell the players we want to sell,” Pochettino said after Thursday’s victory. “Like always – every season, every summer – that [a transfer] is possible. But I think we are so, so, so calm about our key players, and they are so happy here. We are all very happy here.”
If Tottenham fails to keep everyone there, though, it would be so, so, so Spursy.
Joe Lago is the editor of FC Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter @joelago.