With the signing of Yves Bissouma, Tottenham Hotspur continued what looks to be an already busy summer for the club. It was expected after Spurs finished in the top four that the club would be performing significant upgrades to the squad, including various ins and outs. The early results suggest that Daniel Levy and Fabio Paratici are staying true to their word and fully backing Antonio Conte after the Italian gaffer made multiple suggestions that the squad needed more depth and improvements.
With the signings of Bissouma, Ivan Perišić and Fraser Forster, Spurs have locked in two starting options and a homegrown backup keeper for all of roughly £30 million (considering that both Perišić and Forster were free transfers). The expectation and reporting is that Spurs will still look to add another central midfielder, another wingback option for the right side and perhaps even two central defenders — one of whom who can fill the left-sided centerback spot. However, another position and area of need Conte has identified is at striker.
For years now, Spurs have neglected the striker position and have relied way too frequently on Harry Kane. Aside from Carlos Vinícius, who was brought in on loan a few seasons ago under José Mourinho, Spurs haven’t been able to address the backup striker spot really since the failed transfer of Vincent Janssen. As the club’s talisman continues to age and faces a ton of games both with club and England this coming season, it’s time for Spurs to bring in a player at the position to help spell Kane time here and there. One player who would not be as expensive and would be a quietly shrewd business move would be Blackburn Rovers’ Ben Brereton Díaz.
Spurs has been linked to Brazilians Raphinha and Richarlison already this summer, so more attacking firepower is clearly a priority. And while both players would help up front, the truth is that they are different profiles and would be less conventional operators at striker — Raphinha more so than Richarlison with the latter having a bit experience playing as more of a central attacking target.
Last season, Spurs heavily featured a 3-4-3 with the front three of Kane, Heung-min Son and Dejan Kulusevski. With a full preseason to work with, Conte and his staff will have plenty of time to iron out different tactics and patterns of play against teams with contrasting profiles. With Spurs back in Europe’s elite campaign in the Champions League, depth will be extremely important for Conte’s side this season.
Towards the tail-end of last season, Spurs were naming players like Harvey White and Michael Craig as bench options — both decent prospects for the future but not players that should be on the bench for a club the size of Spurs. Adding depth and rounding out the squad is important for Spurs this summer and their signings up to this point have helped in that department.
The striker position is always expensive in the summer transfer window, but Brereton Díaz has been somewhat overlooked considering where Rovers finished towards the end of the Championship campaign and the fact that he does not play in a typical feeder league like Portugal’s Primeira Liga or France’s Ligue 1.
The prospect of adding Brereton Díaz is a unique one despite the fact that it may not be seen as a sexy one by many. When compared to other attackers in the transfer market, a Blackburn player obviously does not provide as much intrigue as a player from perhaps Serie A, but it certainly does not mean he would be a bad addition. In recent seasons, Liverpool have added players like Fábio Carvalho and Andrew Robertson from lower EFL-ranked clubs.
Despite recently becoming a regular for Chile at the international level (hilariously he found out about his Chilean eligibility through Football Manager), Brereton Díaz is an England native who came through the ranks at Nottingham Forest before making his name known at Blackburn. After two seasons of struggling to break into the first team, Brereton Díaz grew into his frame and became much more confident, which has in turn led to him establishing himself a primary starter for Rovers over the past two seasons. For Blackburn, there was not a more important player to their success this season than BBD. And while Blackburn missed out on the Championship playoffs, Brereton Díaz’s 22 league goals (npG+A/90 0.63) were tied for third-most in the league with the two players in front of him (Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke) being on teams that were promoted.
Spurs’ signings so far this summer support the idea that the club is taking advantage of adding players on the cheap. Both Perišić and Forster joined on free transfers and Bissouma was purchased at a discounted rate due to his contract being up after next season. Brereton Díaz has just one season left on his Blackburn contract, after the club triggered a clause to extend him for another season. Should Brereton Díaz stay at Blackburn, it’s likely he’d have yet another productive season banging in goals but it could potentially come at the cost of Rovers not being able to extend him if they missed out on promotion next season. This makes him an attractive target for Spurs who could be looking for a low-cost backup with high upside, leaving more money for other targets.
Blackburn and Spurs have done business quite recently when Rovers purchased Spurs academy grad Dilan Markanday, who, in a similar situation, Spurs sold at a discounted price because Markanday was out of contract at season’s end. Markanday needed first-team football and while an injury derailed him from hitting the ground running during his start at Blackburn, he is certainly a talented prospect who could pave the way for a decent business relationship with the two clubs.
Brereton Díaz would meet the criteria for a homegrown player — something that Spurs have to be conscious of as they continue to re-tool their squad this summer. Primarily a striker, Brereton Díaz can also play across multiple attacking positions, most notably at left wing and even in a second-striker role. He does not have game-breaking speed, but he is a player that plays well in tight areas and has really grown in his decision-making ability. He has a good handle on the ball, displays comfort with his first touch. When you think about the way Conte likes his sides to operate, they are run much more like a calculated machine, heavily predicated on its patterns and less so its individual brilliance.
At Blackburn, manager Tony Mowbray’s system gave a bit more attacking emphasis, which really helped Brereton Díaz blossom into the player he became this past season. Coming to Spurs would obviously be a jump in competition, but he quietly figured out his game under a more set-in-stone system. Should he join Conte at Spurs, it would be yet another rigorous and meticulous environment for Brereton Díaz to take the next step in his development.
This is a player that Spurs would not immediately throw into their starting lineup, but it would give them a commodity that they simply have not had in recent seasons. Should Conte truly work his magic and get Spurs close to a Premier League title, he will simply need a healthy and in-form Kane. With a crazy season approaching of the World Cup mashed into the middle of the campaign, Spurs simply cannot use and depend on Kane as much as they did this past season. Having Brereton Díaz in the squad would give them yet another option for the various competitions they will be apart of next season as well as give them a proven goal-scoring player who has natural striker tendencies.
Expecting him to come in and immediately adapt to the Premier League would be unfair, but this is a potential transfer that has the feel of a low-risk, high-reward move that a club like Spurs should be looking into. Additionally, making a move for Brereton Díaz could be made in addition to adding a better-known option in attack such as a Lautaro Martínez or either one of the Brazilian names mentioned above. So far this summer, Spurs have done well rounding out their squad while also not shelling out serious amounts of money. Adding a player like BBD would fit in that mold and leave Spurs in a position where they are still more than capable of adding an elite £50m or more player this summer.
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