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Spurs to compete with Arsenal, PSG, Barcelona for Ligue 1 central midfielder

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Jean Michaël Seri is having a very good season with Nice, and he’s turning a lot of heads.

SSC Napoli v OGC Nice Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

A box-to-box midfielder probably isn’t the top priority for Tottenham Hotspur this summer, but that doesn’t mean that Spurs aren’t looking to bolster their options going into another Champions League season. Hence, the rumor mill (in this case The Guardian) is grinding away with news that Spurs are interested in Ivory Coast midfielder Jean Michaël Seri.

Seri has been one of the break-out stars for Nice this season, who are a surprising third in the Ligue 1 table, just three points behind PSG and six behind Monaco. Seri has 12 caps for the Ivory Coast, and at age 25 is now starting to attract attention from high profile clubs including PSG, Barcelona, Arsenal and Spurs.

I don’t watch a lot of Ligue 1 football, and I’m not going to pretend that I have any key insights as to how he plays, but the football intelligentsia seems to like him quite a bit. Seri has six goals and nine assists in 2700 minutes of league play for Nice this season.

Just by virtue of looking at his statistics and watching a few highlight videos of him on YouTube, it seems like Seri might be depth for Mousa Dembele, or someone to play alongside him in a midfield three. He’s not especially pacy, but he has good instincts with the ball, and what looks like excellent delivery on long passes and corners.

It’s hard to say whether Seri would be able to quickly make the transition from Ligue 1 to the Premier League, and his status as an Ivory Coast international would mean that he’d probably be absent for the African Cup of Nations every two years. Seri would also be competing with Dembele, Harry Winks, and possibly even Christian Eriksen for minutes, and he’s expressed a desire to move to a club where he’ll get a lot of minutes.

This is just a rumor for now, so don’t start getting your hopes up. The Guardian is reporting that he has a release clause of €40m, but that they’d be willing to let him go this summer for £20m. That’s a pretty good price for what looks like a technically skilled box-to-box midfielder, but if PSG — who could view him as a replacement for Marco Verrati -- or Barcelona get involved that probably means Spurs won’t have much of a shot.

Tottenham have bigger needs in the offseason, but by the looks of things a player like Seri could help with their midfield depth, something that they’ll likely need if they’re going to make a deep run in the cups and Champions League next year. That said, if it takes £20m to get Seri, it might then be better to spend a bit more, swing for the fences, and make a cheeky play for RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita instead.