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Athletic: Tottenham looked into signing Wilfried Zaha on deadline day

Well, that might have been interesting.

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Crystal Palace v Brentford FC - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

The dust hasn’t fully settled yet on the summer transfer window but we are starting to get post-mortems dribbling out, not only about deals that did happen but also deals that nearly did or could have. The Athletic’s Jack Pitt-Brooke (£) writes today in a recap of Spurs’ transfer business that Spurs were active on the final day of the window, in particular looking at another forward to complement Spurs’ existing attacking options.

The rumor that sucked up most of the deadline-day oxygen was Leeds United attacking midfielder Daniel James. But another Spurs target noted by Pitt-Brooke? Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.

Zaha has long had his admirers at Tottenham, and Spurs have had an interest in him dating back years. There were summers where he was an active and public target for Daniel Levy, but moves never materialized, mostly due to Crystal Palace demanding too much money for what they considered to be their best player, and a product of their academy. But Zaha’s contract expires at the end of this season, and it’s a little surprising that he didn’t get a move to a bigger club.

At 29, Zaha doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a typical Tottenham Hotspur transfer target, but with Antonio Conte and Fabio Paratici in charge of operations now, Tottenham have made their fair share of “atypical” signings this summer. Exhibit A is Ivan Perisic, who joined Spurs this summer at age 33 on a two year contract. Spurs were reportedly also kicking the tires on 29-year old Ukrainian attacker Ruslan Malinovskyi (who had a move rejected by his club’s ownership), and were also looking at the possibility of luring Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, also 29, to Hotspur Way.

There isn’t any detail as to what happened that led to Spurs not making an offer. Maybe Palace again asked for too much, maybe Spurs decided Zaha’s wages, supposedly £130k/wk, were too dear, or perhaps Zaha decided he didn’t want to switch to a club where he’d likely be a rotation option and not a regular starter. But considering Richarlison is the only real attacking threat Spurs have on their bench at the moment, there’s a real argument that Zaha (or a player like him) could’ve had a real impact on Tottenham’s depth and rotation as they compete on multiple fronts this season.

I don’t mean to actively criticize Spurs for not making a signing on deadline day, whether it be Zaha, Malinovskyi, Ziyecho, or James. Deals are hard, and we saw numerous examples across football of last minute transfers falling apart for various reasons. And I think it’s safe to say that despite any last-gasp excitement, Spurs have had a successful transfer window. But with hindsight now being 20/20, I do find myself reading that anecdote in The Athletic about Zaha and thinking to myself you know what, that might have been pretty cool.