With the January transfer window just about a week away, Antonio Conte is no doubt already assessing the Tottenham Hotspur squad and is ready to bring in new faces he feels he needs. Historically, the January transfer window has provided a difficult challenge for clubs looking to bring players into the fold. That said, while we should not expect major changes from Conte and Fabio Paratici, the expectation is for Spurs is to bring in a few new players that could improve the overall level of the dressing room and bolster the options Conte will have to choose from.
Given their games in hand, Spurs are more than capable of finishing in the Top 4 — something that any Spurs fan would have felt was impossible just two months ago when Spurs were put to the sword against Arsenal. That being said, it will obviously be an extremely important window for the club to make the correct moves.
With the club switching from Nuno Espírito Santo to Conte, the scope of positions that needed improvement have certainly changed. Due to Nuno’s preference of a back four during his tenure at Spurs, the lack of emphasis of creativity in the midfield was abundantly clear and it was easily the most-needed position to upgrade. Now with Conte, Spurs’ ball-progression abilities have obviously improved given that the group looks to be a bit more capable with better attacking patterns. However, with Conte’s extreme reliance on quality wingback play, the position will be the area the club looks to add reinforcements.
Putting on our Paratici thinking caps here and knowing that Daniel Levy will be very involved, let’s discuss some options at each position of need.
Reports have suggested that Spurs will be targeting a forward and right wingback in January. In looking at wingbacks in particular, it has become clear under Conte that Spurs need a bit more consistency from their options. I have mentioned before how Spurs seem OK on the left side with their options in Sergio Reguilón and Ryan Sessegnon. However, on the right, the only reliable option is really Emerson Royal, who has showcased some struggles, particularly in attack, adapting to the wingback role. Behind him, Matt Doherty seems primed for a move away and Japhet Tanganga is likely more of a right centerback in the back three. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Spurs are targeting improvements at the position, despite recently adding at the position over the summer in Emerson.
In attack, Conte has consistently selected Harry Kane. But given the Englishman’s injury history as well as the bevy of games Spurs will have over the next few months, more options will be needed. Spurs supporters have long called for a second striker to be brought in, so it also comes as no surprise that the club will be looking to improve the options in attack.
On top of just attackers and right wingbacks, Spurs could use a new face or two in midfield. While the team is not as reliant on getting creativity from their midfield as they were under Nuno, it would be wise for Spurs to add a player with a bit more individual creativity or thinking on the ball. For the sake of this article, I have also added that position of need into this listing.
Note: The purpose of this exercise is to provide options that are realistic for Spurs. Additionally, some of these players have already been linked with Spurs in the past. In each position of need, I have listed five players — ranging from players who could come in right away and produce to players who could be seen as pieces for the future.
Tariq Lamptey, Brighton
He would certainly not come cheap, but Lamptey has become quite a capable weapon for Graham Potter’s side as a wingback in the Seagulls’ 3-4-2-1 system. Since leaving Chelsea in the January 2020 transfer window, Lamptey has been one of the more underrated performers in the league.
There are concerns over his fitness considering he has missed time here and there with muscular injuries. But Brighton have reportedly been interested in Joe Rodon in the past. Perhaps there is a bit of business that could be done if Spurs were to send Rodon and cash down south in exchange for Lamptey. He would certainly provide that attacking capability in the wingback role.
Adama Traoré, Wolves
When Spurs were interested in Adama over the summer, it made sense considering Nuno’s relationship with the player. Under Nuno, the offense was really funneled through the individual brilliance of one player. In Spurs’ case, the offense was set up around Lucas. However, had Traoré been brought in, things could have been different.
Fast forward a few months and we once again find Spurs interested in the Wolves winger, except maybe in a different position. Despite the managerial shift, Spurs’ reported interest in Traoré has once again led to a bevy of rumors. Maybe Adama’s ball-playing capabilities would leave Spurs to believe he could be play in the right wingback. Again though, like Lamptey, Traoré would certainly cost a decent fee.
Ivan Perišić, Inter Milan
A player that Conte is familiar with from their days together in Italy, Perišić is an intriguing player due to his ability to play in a variety of different positions. He is definitely most comfortable playing on the wing, but he has operated as a second striker, an attacking midfielder and most recently as a wingback for Conte last season.
It would not be the move that would provide for the biggest headlines for Spurs, but Perišić is an experienced player that has won all over Europe. Add in the fact that he would come cheap on an expiring contract, Spurs could reap dividends by investing in a low-price, high-upside investment in the Croatian 32-year-old. He would not be a long term option, but with Royal already in the squad, perhaps that doesn’t matter.
Manuel Lazzari, Lazio
Fallen a bit out of favor under Maurizio Sarri, Lazzari is a career Serie A player that has operated as a right midfielder and a right wingback. At 28 years of age, like Perišić, Lazzari would not be a high-profile signing for Spurs, but he would give the club a commodity on the right side with some attacking proficiencies.
Given the Italian ties at the club, it should come as no surprise that a few Serie A players would be linked with Spurs in the coming transfer windows. Lazzari is a player in the type of situation that Spurs could take advantage of while also giving Conte a player he has reportedly been interested in.
Sergiño Dest, Barcelona
Another player who has operated in a right wingback role, Dest is a player that Barcelona could look to cash in on with their financial struggles. Dest has fallen behind Ronald Araujo in the pecking order, but the USA international is extremely comfortable on the ball and will give Spurs some more emphasis on the outside.
At 21 years of age, Dest experienced immediate success when he came over to the Catalon club from Ajax in October 2020. Spurs are certainly familiar with Barca and their grim financial situation considering the deal for Emerson in the summer, but perhaps it would behoove Spurs to bring in yet another Barca player for competition. Dest is weaker on the defensive end than on the offensive, but some of that weakness can be mitigated by the back three.
Dušan Vlahović, Fiorentina
It seems that Vlahović is going to be one of the prized jewels in the coming transfer windows. Should there be an all-world team at this point of the 2021-22 season in club soccer, Vlahović would certainly be on it at the striker position.
Currently leading Serie A with 16 goals, the Serbian international has already declined a new contract with Fiorentina, which will create a unique situation with him over the next six months. Fiorentina could definitely opt to hold firm on their valuation of him for the rest of the year as they seek European qualification, but this is a player Spurs have been linked with for quite some time.
There will likely be competition for the player, but if Conte is as enamored with the player as reports have led many to believe, Spurs would be wise to bring him aboard. It is hard to see where Vlahović would fit on the pitch with both Kane and Son Heung-min, but that would be some finishing trio. However, I struggle to find Spurs beating out Manchester City, who could very well be in play for the 21-year-old after they received quite a bit of cash from the Ferran Torres deal.
Lorenzo Insigne, Napoli
Yet another Italian player — and yes, there will be more — Conte has been rumored with Insigne for awhile. At 30, Insigne has been with Napoli for over a decade, but his contract expires at the conclusion of the season.
Napoli’s hopes of winning the Scudetto have fallen out a bit given their recent skid, so if an offer for Insigne came in, they would definitely have to listen, right? Insigne is a player that provides a lot of magic in his game. He is not the most consistent player in the world, but he would certainly be an upgrade over Lucas or Steven Bergwijn,
Anthony Martial, Manchester United
It would be quite surprising if United and Spurs were to do business, but Martial is a player Spurs have been rumored with for quite some time. A 17-goal scorer in the league two seasons ago, Martial has completely fallen out of favor in Manchester in consecutive seasons in large part due to the club buying Cristiano Ronaldo this past summer.
Martial has versatility in his game, as he can play both on the wing and at striker. His stock is quite low at the moment, but he is still just 26. Spurs could do worse than signing a player like Martial who has proven he can score goals in the Premier League.
Julian Álvarez, River Plate
If Spurs were to miss out in the race for Vlahović, one name that they could get in early on is Julian Álvarez from River Plate. One of the better goal-scorers in South America, Álvarez is a unique striker that could operate both up top and out on the wings.
In the 2021 Primera División season, Álvarez scored 17 goals. He is still just 21 years old and while it would be quite an uptick in competition coming over from Argentina to England, this is the type of move that Spurs should be looking to make with long-term thinking. Think about the Pape Matar Sarr signing from Metz over the summer. Signing Álvarez would give Spurs the contractual rights to a player with budding talent and they could loan him back to his former club as they did with Sarr.
Deji Sotona, Nice
Like Álvarez, Sotona would be yet another young signing made with one eye toward the future. Formerly a United youth product, Sotona opted to leave for Nice in September 2020 — a similar situation to that of Noni Madueke who left Spurs for PSV a few seasons ago.
He is 19 years old and just scratching the surface of playing professional football, but this move would probably not cost a ton. The Sarr deal cost Spurs around £15 million. Given that Sotona does not have as much first-team experience as Sarr did at the time Spurs pulled the trigger, it would not cost Spurs as much to invest in a talent like him.
Franck Kessié, AC Milan
Like Vlahović, Kessié isanother player that has been frequently rumored to Spurs . For years now, at both Milan and Atalanta, Kessié has improved with consistency. And despite his recent success with the Rossoneri, it appears that the Ivory Coast international will be looking to play elsewhere next season.
With his contract expiring at the end of the season as well as the fact that Kessié has rejected an extension with the club, Spurs could get Kessié at a decent value. Milan will likely want to recoup some sort of fee, but it should not be out of Spurs’ price range. Kessié will be able to play that running role in the midfield like Arturo Vidal played under Conte. He can operate in a variety of roles and would immediately contest for playing time in midfield.
Donny van de Beek, Manchester United
Another United player, albeit in a bit of a different situation, van de Beek’s career has come to a complete halt since making the move from Ajax to Manchester in August 2020. The rumor has always been that Spurs had interest in van de Beek, but the Dutchman chose to play for United instead. Given that hindsight is 20/20, the truth is that van de Beek would have benefitted from coming to Spurs instead, but that is an argument for another time.
Still just 24, van de Beek would immediately come into Spurs and give them qualities that they currently do not have. An astute passer of the ball and one who sees the game in a creative manner, van de Beek’s intelligence and ability to play with tempo in the middle of the park would bode well in either a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 shape.
Marcelo Brozović, Inter Milan
Another player that has played with Conte, Brozović would act as a worker/anchor in midfield. A central defending midfielder, Brozović operated as the base player in Conte’s 3-5-2 midfield at Inter.
He was crucial in the team’s build-up play as well as their success in defense. In essence, he would do the dirty work for Spurs in midfield. Additionally, Brozović is a talented striker of the ball, and would add to Spurs’ options on set pieces. Given his relationship and experience under Conte in the past, there is no reason to believe the Croatian would need a lot of time before immediately being involved. Brozović’s contract expires at the end of the season and considering Inter were in somewhat of a financial situation ahead of last summer, there is a chance that he could be had under value.
Weston McKennie, Juventus
Similar to the likes of Kessié or Brozović, McKennie is yet another Swiss army knife of a midfielder who can play in a variety of positions and perform in many roles. He excels in deep-lying positions and at transitioning the ball from defense to attack, and has the athleticism to be a nuisance in midfield.
In comparison to Kessié or Brozović, McKennie does not have the experience or years under his belt, but he has been on Paratici’s radar in the past given that the Italian brought him over from Schalke to Juventus just last season. USA international team fans know that McKennie is quite skillful in the air as well.
Mattias Svanberg, Bologna
A newer name in this list, Svanberg is one of the latest players to become a household name in Serie A. Although just 22, Svanberg has been a consistent starter for mid-tier Italian side Bologna since coming over from Malmö.
With Paratici present, this is a player that he surely is aware of given the club’s interest in Takehiro Tomiyasu last summer. He is an excellent passer and works hard in defense. He has grown into his game more and has become quite seasoned over the years in Serie A. Svanberg is an underrated Serie A player whose impact in games is being lessened by the talent surrounding him.