By Charlie Eccleshare, The Athletic
With the Euros finishing on Sunday, transfer negotiations are intensifying across the continent.
At Tottenham, the immediate priority is strengthening a defence that was so often the team’s Achilles’ heel last season. As reported by The Athletic on Wednesday, Takehiro Tomiyasu is the closest transfer to completion — with Spurs and Bologna finalising a deal that is believed to be around £15 million plus add-ons.
Tomiyasu can play as both a right-back and central defender, normally in a back three, and impressed in Serie A last season with his speed, two-footedness and defensive intelligence. Norwich right-back Max Aarons, a long-time target, has also been mentioned as a possible option, though Tomiyasu’s expected arrival makes that less of a priority.
In addition, Spurs want to sign at least one other central defender this summer. The extremely highly-rated Jules Kounde is one of their main targets and Sevilla are open to letting the player go at the right price.
They need to balance the books after being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and would consider selling at less than Kounde’s €80 million (£68.2 million) buyout clause, though it would likely require more than the €60 million (£51.2 million) bid Manchester City failed with last summer. Kounde himself is ready for a new challenge but he wants to play in the Champions League, which would rule out Tottenham.
Milan Skriniar is an alternative centre-back target, and someone who Spurs have admired for some time. Spurs’ technical performance director Steve Hitchen flew out to Milan for talks last summer, but the prospective fee was too high. Inter’s badly-hit finances may make them more open to a sale this time around, and there is a will on the Tottenham side to get the deal done.
Alternative targets include Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard. At 28 and with only one year left on his contract, he would be considerably cheaper than Skriniar and certainly Kounde, but Spurs’ managing director of football Fabio Paratici will try to get other deals done first. Reports in Germany have also linked Tottenham with Wolfsburg’s Maxence Lacroix but this is not believed to be at an advanced stage.
As well as incomings, Spurs are hoping to sell a number of their defenders (the club’s finances mean they are almost in a position where they must sell before they can buy). For the second summer running, Serge Aurier is available. Paris Saint-Germain have been linked but it’s understood that such a move is a non-starter because of the off-field controversies that marred his first spell with the club.
Tottenham would also listen to offers for Davinson Sanchez and Cameron Carter-Vickers, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth. Toby Alderweireld meanwhile, as revealed by The Athletic, has told the Spurs hierarchy he wants to leave this summer.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris only has one year left on his contract and will discuss his future with the club when he returns from holiday for pre-season. A return to France is unlikely so if he were to move at the end of his current deal, a club in Italy would be more realistic.
Spurs are better stocked in midfield, which is less of a priority area. One name that has been mentioned as a possible target is Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini but any signing would mean meeting the player’s €30 million (£25.6 million) buyout clause.
As for outgoings, Moussa Sissoko is available while Harry Winks will find out what his role will be under the new regime in the next week or so. Oliver Skipp, on loan at Norwich last season, is expected to stay at Spurs — even though Daniel Farke would love to have him at Carrow Road for another year.
Further forward, Spurs have plenty of options in the positions behind the striker. They’re so well stocked, in fact, that Erik Lamela is available for transfer, while they would consider offers for Lucas Moura. Jack Clarke has interest domestically and abroad but would prefer to stay and fight for a place in the first team. As it stands, Steven Bergwijn is wanted at the club and will stay put.
With Carlos Vinicius returning to Benfica, though, the position of back-up to or partner for Harry Kane (if Nuno Espirito Santo goes with two up front and Son Heung-min plays out wide) still needs to be filled. Vinicius will not be coming back, and so Spurs’ attention is elsewhere.
Danny Ings is one of their main targets but, despite only having one year left on his contract, Southampton do not want to sell and he would not come cheap. Southampton would want more than £25 million as they recognise his importance to them staying in the Premier League, and they would be unable to find a replacement of his quality for less than that.
Whether Spurs will be willing to meet that valuation remains to be seen, given that they had less than that in mind last year when weighing up a move for Ings, whose value was far higher at the time. It’s also unclear if Ings would rather join Spurs now or wait until he’s a free agent next summer when he will have more options.
Tottenham’s priorities would of course change completely if Kane were to leave. The latest on that, as reported by The Athletic on Wednesday, is that Daniel Levy remains insistent that his star player is not for sale. Manchester City, though, are expected to push hard before the transfer window closes next month.
With so many deals to try and complete, a number of fringe players to attempt to move on, and a huge battle on their hands over Kane, it promises to be an extremely busy few weeks for Spurs.