Spurs linked to Napoli midfielder

Maurizio Lagana

I think this one is Bat Country through and through, but it was kind of fun to chase the story down the rabbit hole. Bat hole? Into the bat cave? Will need Sleep's official word on how to continue this metaphor.

The link in question appears to be about as thin as is possible. Andrew Smith at Forza Italian Football reports that Tottenham Hotspur may be among the suitors for defensive midfielder Valon Behrami.

According to Il Mattino, owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has set a price at €20 Million. It is believed that Inter coach Walter Mazzarri could be interested in reuniting with Behrami. Other clubs thought to be in the running are Borussia Dortmund in Germany and Tottenham Hotspur of England.

There is no link to Il Mattino in the piece, of course. I have been unable to find the Italian report in question, but on May 15 there was a bit of activity on other Italian football sites talking about a possible transfer of Behrami away from Napoli. For example, Tutto Mercato Web reported that the Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis was looking to offload Behrami for roughly €20M, and both Spurs and Borussia Dortmund were interested.

It is not clear how the Spurs' interest was sourced at Il Mattino. It might have been fantastic Il Mattino sources within the Napoli organization, who were present in the room when Franco Baldini called to make inquiries about Behrami. There was also a dubiously sourced report in TalkSPORT about a week previous suggesting the same Spurs link to Behrami.

In that TalkSPORT story, it is reported that Behrami, who is 29, is further under contract for three more seasons. This makes him a highly dubious target for either Spurs or Dortmund, both of whom have long focused on younger targets with both room to improve and sell-on value.

I have a theory. It may be a bit batty, but that feels right. There does not appear to be any underlying report of any particular soundness or sourcing. This is probably the last offseason in which Napoli could unload the Swiss midfielder at a profit, as he is already past prime age and only likely to decline further. If, hypothetically, Napoli were looking to plump the market for a player they probably need to sell, leaking to the hometown paper about all the clubs from Germany and England that are hot on his heels seems like a pretty reasonable move. I'm guessing that De Laurentiis and his people are leaking to the media in order to dupe their actual negotiating partners into believing that they are bidding against tough foreign competition.

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