Since Fabio Paratici has come into the fold for Tottenham Hotspur, a bevy of players have been linked to the Lilywhites. Each transfer window, the rumors seem to not only come from all over, but they sometimes come in waves where the deals are nearly done and dusted before word is even out.
A few summers ago, it appeared that Tottenham, fresh off their disappointing 2-0 defeat against Liverpool in the Champions League, were on the verge of signing Paulo Dybala from Juventus. The deal seemed to be all but over the finish line, but a disagreement on image rights ultimately led for Tottenham backing away and focusing their attentions elsewhere.
Even last summer, Tottenham had representatives in Italy looking to close a deal with Inter Milan for Slovakian centerback Milan Škriniar. Eventually, the sides were unable to come to an agreement and Tottenham shifted their focus to Championship centerback Joe Rodon from Swansea during the English domestic transfer window, a few weeks past the international window deadline.
As Spurs showed in the 2020-21 season, the club will only go as far as their defense takes them. Should Harry Kane return another year in north London to combine with Son Heung-min, a healthy duo of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso among others, Tottenham will have all of the firepower they desire to score goals.
Far too many times last season, Tottenham simply lacked discipline and quality in their back-line. In large part due to José Mourinho and his man-management tactics, defenders, particularly Davinson Sánchez and Eric Dier, were phased in and out of the squad and were unable to develop a bond or a form of consistency. Perhaps the club’s best defender, Toby Alderweireld, could be on his way out this summer as he enters the last year of his current deal.
Spurs have reason to expect big things out of the aforementioned Rodon in large part due to some impressive performances when he was thrown into the fire last season as well as a EUROs campaign where he was a rock in the back for Wales. But what is clear is that similar to years prior with the midfield, Tottenham badly needs reinforcements in the defensive side of the ball to progress and get back into the top-6.
Unfortunately, Spurs don’t have much time to re-shape their defense as they are roughly a week away from their first pre-season fixture. Of course, Spurs, like other clubs, are waiting for the EUROs to fully conclude to really kick into gear with their summer transfer business. However, the worry about this condensed timeframe is that Spurs have a history of focusing too much attention on one transfer whereas other clubs work on multiple transfers at once.
There have been murmurs that Paratici is going to be in the weeds working simultaneously on each of the transfer decisions. And while most of the rumors surrounding the club are that there will be a new defensive piece coming in, the reality is that Spurs need not just one, but two centerbacks.
It is hard to gauge what kind of formation we should expect Spurs to play in this upcoming season under Nuno Espírito Santo. History has shown that Nuno has played a variety of different formations, most recently opting for a back-three during his time at Wolves where his wingbacks ventured forward to create overlapping facets of play.
If Spurs were to deploy a back-three with their current options, it would likely be catastrophic. Sure Rodon’s ball-playing approach could benefit by having two centerbacks next to him, but Dier next to Rodon provides redundancy due to their best trait being in aerial duels as well as their spatial concerns. Sánchez has athleticism to be on out on his own, but his tenure has shown far too many bone-headed decisions mixed in between.
With Paratici in the fold, Spurs supporters should feel excited about some of the players that have been linked to the club. Takehiro Tomiyasu looks to be a versatile piece who could operate as a centerback or right back. And while that deal looks to be getting closer, the the links to Škriniar have once again re-surfaced, and Koundé and Lacroix are two centerbacks who truly have world-class potential.
Interestingly enough, I have written and spoken about all three of the big-name centerback options Spurs have been linked to in the past. In that article, I named Koundé and Škriniar as two “one-can-dream” options and labeled Lacroix as a “mid-range option”.
All three players will not come cheap nor easy for Spurs. Koundé is just 22 years old, is under contract for three more years and has already been apart of a side that won a Europa League. Škriniar could be had for a bit more on the cheap side considering Inter’s financial issue, but he still has two more years on his current deal. Out of the three, Spurs should be all over Lacroix.
At 21 years of age, Lacroix has played out of Wolfsburg’s financial capabilities. He has rejected multiple contract extensions and while Leipzig has been kicking the tires on multiple bids for the Frenchman, Tottenham would be wise to sweep in and take away the prospect of Wolfsburg selling a prized asset to another Champions League-competing Bundesliga club.
It may not have to be two out of these three players, but the reality is that Spurs need two incoming centerbacks. While the club will likely and frustratingly first sell off some outgoings to create funds for new acquisitions, Spurs have to move quickly in a market that has already seen some movement; look no further than PSG acquiring Sergio Ramos and Liverpool bringing in Ibrahima Konaté.
If the club can add two centerbacks who would immediately improve and push competition in the squad, it would tick off the biggest challenge facing Spurs this summer outside of the Kane situation. Perhaps the main issue facing Tottenham in recent seasons has been their inability to fully refresh. In a summer transfer window that will surely have a lot of uncertainty, Tottenham tinkering their approach ever-so-slightly and becoming a bit more aggressive could put them right back into that Champions League conversation.