Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has questioned Tottenham’s “ambitions” – suggesting Spurs have lower “expectations” than their Premier League title rivals.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy criticised unsustainable transfer spending and defended his club’s lack of signings.
Italian Conte agreed that the market was “very difficult”.
But Conte, who led Chelsea to the title last season, added: “If [Spurs] don’t win the title, it’s not a tragedy.
“If they don’t arrive in the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out in the first round of the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out after the first game that they play in the Europa League and go down against Gent, it’s not a tragedy.
“Maybe for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and – I don’t know – Liverpool, it is a tragedy. You must understand this. You must understand the status of the team.
“Every team has to understand what their ambitions are. If their ambitions are to fight for the title or try to win the Champions League, you must buy expensive players. Otherwise you continue to stay in your level. It’s simple.”
More than £850m has been spent by top-flight sides in the transfer window, which ends on 31 August, with accountancy firm Deloitte predicting Premier League sides will surpass the record £1.165bn they spent last summer.
Chelsea have spent about £130m on three players – forward Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco and defender Antonio Rudiger from Roma.
Tottenham, who sold Kyle Walker to Manchester City for £45m, have not made any signings, with Levy saying: “We have a duty to manage the club appropriately.”
Tottenham finished second in the Premier league last season behind Chelsea and were knocked out of both the Champions League and Europa League.
Conte also revealed that Chelsea “tried to buy” Walker, adding “I think now every single player is expensive” – and he revealed that Spurs and England striker Harry Kane would be his first pick if he could sign any forward. Kane has finished as the Premier League’s top goalscorer for the past two seasons.
“Tottenham is a really good squad if they are able to keep all the players,” said Conte. “For me, Kane, now, is one of the best strikers in the world.
“If I had to buy one striker I would go to Kane. He is a complete striker. He is strong physically, with the ball, without the ball, he fights and he’s strong in the air and acrobatic on the right and the left.
“If you go to buy Kane now it would be at least £100m.