Thanks to the sale of Kyle Walker to Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur are going to be linked to every young and affordable right back from now until the close of the transfer window (or until they sign someone). Popular wisdom suggests that Porto’s Ricardo Pereira is still Mauricio Pochettino’s top choice to compete with Kieran Trippier, but according to the Portuguese media they may also be considering 22-year old Hoffenheim fullback Jeremy Toljan.
Portuguese paper Record Sport has the story, but it’s behind a paywall (and is also in Portuguese), so we’re going off of a report in NinetyMinutesOnline. The gist of the Record article is that Benfica are very keen on signing Toljan, but Spurs are also interested and Benfica withdrew because they can’t hang financially with Spurs.
Wait, stop laughing. This is serious.
Toljan is actually quite an intriguing player. 22 years old, he’s a German U21 international and a regular player on a surprise Hoffenheim side that finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season. Listed on Transfermarkt as a left back, he’s two-footed and comfortable on either flank, plus he can also play in the midfield which makes him an positionally flexible player, a trait that Pochettino loves.
He missed a lot of time last year with an injury, so his stats aren’t that gaudy -- just one assist and one goal in 1300 minutes for Hoffenheim last season. Also, his Hoffenheim contract expires after next year, so he might be an affordable signing. Some reports have suggested he could be had
for around €10-15m, if Spurs are really interested.
And that’s the rub, really. The Portuguese media... well, it isn’t great, and many of those outlets aren’t above using agent talk as the basis of rumors, or just making things up. For what it’s worth, Lyall Thomas say that Spurs have scouted Toljan, but he’s not aware of anything beyond that.
All’s quiet on the Pereira front, but these Toljan rumors are somewhat intriguing. He fits into that young-emerging-potential-star category that Spurs are actively mining, and it seems he could be the kind of player that could push both Trippier and possibly Moussa Sissoko for minutes. Not a solid rumor yet, but something to watch moving forward.
Update: Did I say €10-15m? Well, that was a bit off. According to Bild, Hoffenheim might let him go for as little as €3.5m. Apparently Hoffenheim don’t see him as indispensable what with his contract expiring after next season, and he could be had for peanuts. There’s even a quote from Hoffenheim’s director of football, Alex Rosen, which I’ve run through Google Translate and (badly) paraphrased here:
“Wenn Tottenham kommt und das dreifache Gehalt bietet, da kann man dann schlecht sagen: London ist eine unattraktive Stadt oder Tottenham ein schlechter Klub. Das ist alles sehr positiv – und dann denken junge Menschen darüber nach.”
"If Tottenham comes and offers triple his salary, then you can’t really say ‘London is an unattractive city’ or ‘Tottenham a bad club.’ This is all very positive – and young people think about this stuff."