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Romano: Tottenham talking with Piero Hincapie over summer transfer

Defenders are high on Antonio Conte’s summer wish list and it looks like Hincapie could be one preferred option.

Ecuador v Senegal -World Cup Photo by Dale MacMillan/Soccrates/Getty Images

Ecuador may have bounced out of the group stages of this winter’s World Cup early, but Piero Hincapie is one of the players who emerged from the competition with his stock improved. Today, Fabrizio Romano dropped a hint that the Bayer Leverkusen central defender could be a summer transfer target for Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs are in the market for defensive reinforcements, especially at the left center back position, and Romano stated on his Here We Go Podcast today that Spurs are in talks with Hincapie over a summer transfer. Spurs managing director Fabio Paratici is working on securing a new attacker, right wing back, and goalkeeper in the January window, but if Spurs can work out a deal ahead of time for one of their CB targets, it would be one less thing to have to think about in June.

Hincapie, 20, is a super talented young central defender who played more as a left back when he was younger, which has given him an improved awareness of space as a center back, both in a back two and back three. He’s young and has a high ceiling, is very capable on the dribble, and has elite defensive awareness for someone only in his second year of high level professional football. He also played a big role for Ecuador, tasked with progressing the ball out of the back line and breaking opposition lines in the World Cup, something that no doubt has piqued Conte’s interest as he looks to upgrade the LCB position at Spurs.

Hincapie’s also an aggressive defender and has a few weaknesses — he’s not the quickest defender, closer to a Clement Lenglet than a Cuti Romero — and is notably weak in the air for a guy who’s nearly 6’ tall. And like Cuti, Hincapie is a bit of a maniac at times. Combining him with Cuti in the back line would certainly be interesting, though I suspect there would be plenty of matches where Spurs fans would end the game minus a few fingernails. Having two hyper-aggressive central defenders in a back three might work against Conte’s system, or it could bust it wide open. It’s unknown, but it’s 100% sicko.

It’s interesting to see Hincapie’s name emerge now. He was nominally linked to Tottenham this past summer, but most of Paratici’s focus was on trying to land Alessandro Bastoni or Josko Gvardiol. Both Bastoni and Gvardiol are likely still high on Spurs’ list, but Hincapie would be cheaper, with some reports suggesting that Bayer Leverkusen would ask north of £30m for him.

And here’s the thing — if Spurs land Hincapie, it’s likely that signing would be at the expense of also signing another LCB. Ben Davies is still at the club and likely will remain there, and it’s not yet clear whether Spurs will keep Lenglet past his one-year loan deal this season. With Gvardiol likely priced out of Spurs’ reach and Inter still stubbornly hanging onto Bastoni, I can’t see where Spurs would be going after two LCBs this summer.

But is he good? Yeah, I think he is, and his age and potential ceiling makes him hugely exciting. Also locking down their preferred LCB target early would be really encouraging — we’ve seen plenty of other clubs due these kinds of deals in the months before the summer windows open, and I wouldn’t mind Spurs do so as well.

We’re a long way from saying this is a thing, but if it happens I wouldn’t hate it.