Tottenham have signed Georges-Kévin Nkoudou from Marseille on a five-year contract more than 40 days after he passed his medical, with the Spurs forward Clinton Njie joining the French club on a season-long loan.
In one of the most protracted transfer sagas of any transfer window and which saw the Spurs head of recruitment, Paul Mitchell, tender his resignation, Nkoudou has signed a five-year deal at White Hart Lane for a fee of around £9.4m – a reduction of £1.6m from the fee agreed with Marseille in mid-July. The Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, attempted to restructure the deal despite the 21-year-old forward having already completed a medical and negotiations broke down.
That impasse led to Mitchell announcing he would leave, stating his dream job had turned into a nightmare. The 34-year-old, who worked under Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, must serve out a six-month notice period at the club before he is allowed to depart amid interest from Leicester.
Levy then decided to revive the deal and reopened discussions with Marseille’s new owner, coming to an agreement in principle on 19 August. Having spent a month in a London hotel, Nkoudou was then given permission to report to Tottenham’s training ground to join Pochettino’s squad, although that was not the end of his waiting game.
Spurs made two bids for Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha but were told the winger was not for sale. The deal was ratified by Levy on Wednesday – days after Pochettino had admitted his priority was to sign a new forward with pace after the departure of Nacer Chadli to West Bromwich.
At least Nkoudou could see the funny side of it. “Nkoudou signs but I’m 40 years old now so I’m not sure to be as quick as I used to be,” he tweeted a few minutes after the deal was confirmed by Tottenham.
“I can’t wait to get to know the Premier League and the English game,” he added. “It suits my playing style, it’s explosive. Everyone knows I’m fast, I like to dribble around players so the English league is best for me.”
Born in Versailles, he began his career at Paris Saint-Germain before joining Nantes in 2013 and moved to the Stade Vélodrome last summer for only £1m.
Njie was understood to be initially reluctant to return to France having played only 184 minutes in the Premier League last season in eight appearances before being persuaded that his game time would be limited if he remained at Spurs.
Tottenham also made inquiries for Morgan Schneiderlin of Manchester United earlier in the week but were unwilling to match the club’s valuation. However Pau López, an Espanyol goalkeeper, has joined Spurs on a season-long loan and the club eventually completed a late £30m move for France midfielder Moussa Sissoko from Newcastle.