Hello, friends. It’s been a long weekend and frankly I didn’t write much because it’s been pretty much a non-stop wall to wall depress-a-thon when it comes to Tottenham Hotspur news. Like (I presume most of) you, I am only human and need to disconnect from time to time.
But news doesn’t stop just because I need to mentally switch off for a couple days. There have been some transfer and news updates that have trickled in since Friday, so this seems like a good time, instead of posting individual articles, to whap ‘em together into a quick digest.
So — here’s your Weekend Rumor Roundup. Hopefully it covers most of the non-bullshit stuff, and maybe a little bit of the bullshit too.
No, there’s still no breakthrough on the transfer of Pedro Porro from Sporting to Tottenham, but it does seem like things are inching closer. Sporting’s public facing position is that they want his €45m purchase clause, all up front. Spurs seem willing to get close to that but are trying to structure it so that there are some incentives that can be paid over time. Sporting’s being intransigent but they’re still talking, and Porro now seems to want to move to London. That gives me some hope that this one will make it over the line, though it could go down to the wire.
Spurs have seemingly always been linked with Nicolo Zaniolo (I think since before he was born) but the rumors have really hotted up over the past couple of days. The latest is that Zaniolo apparently wants to leave Roma (who wouldn’t imo) and the club is ready to sell him, but there are some hangups to any potential deal.
Very possible Spurs get Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo before the window shuts. Zaniolo is not part of the Spezia game today. Roma want a permanent sale for around £30m or a loan with obligation to buy. pic.twitter.com/CnVZEwXmlC— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) January 22, 2023
Spurs want a loan with an option as a hedge in case Zaniolo’s two surgically repaired knees have reduced his performance more than they thought. Roma wants a loan with an OBLIGATION so they don’t have to worry about maybe getting him back this summer.
Zaniolo has some weird stats and is playing tactics developed by a football terrorist, but he has upped his shots by a significant margin this year. He’s not a passy creative midfielder, but he’s definitely a dribbly boi who can shoot at will, so if you cock your head and squint you can see a situation where this might be a good thing for Spurs. Keep your eye on this rumor, as it looks like one that is likely to eventually go through.
Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino
This is a two part rumor that is linked by choices and potential circumstances. First, there are several reports that Conte, who has admitted to having a tough year with mental health after the deaths of three close friends and having his family back in Italy, has asked Tottenham to put his contract talks on hold until closer to the end of the season. The thought is that he wants to concentrate on turning the season around, and to see if he’s backed in the January transfer window before deciding whether he wants to come back for another season.
That puts the club in a serious bind, and doesn’t really do anything to assuage jittery fans who are worried he’ll bolt, or the Tottenham brass who might be ready to fire him outright if Spurs don’t turn things around against Fulham tomorrow or the FA Cup match at Preston at the weekend. So in a sense, nothing’s changed — Spurs are stuck in the in-between grey space between backing their current coach who may or may not want to be here and preparing the stage for whomever the next coach will be.
So all that sets the stage FOR A SUPER JUICY RUMOR courtesy of Marco Conterio: Daniel Levy is apparently already negotiating with Mauricio Pochettino to replace Conte. This makes sense on one level — we know Levy works on contingency plans and likes to have his manager replacements (quietly) lined up before axing his current coach.
However — and I’m going to put this in bold — Marco Conterio is not at all a reliable source in these matters. In the writer’s Slack he was referred to as a “mega mondo bullshit artist” and while it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Pochettino does end up being Tottenham’s Once and Future Coach, frankly the dude gets no credit from me for being the first person to read the most obvious of tea leaves. Wait for it to be reported by someone reliable like Dan Kilpatrick, Alasdair Gold, or anyone at The Athletic.
Pape Matar Sarr
Here’s a quickie from the Department of Nah, Pass: a rumor from Spain (courtesy of Matteo Moretto) suggests that Espanyol have submitted a formal offer to loan Pape Matar Sarr until the end of the season.
El Espanyol quiere a Pape Matar Sarr y ya ha presentado una oferta oficial. De momento, el Tottenham no valora la posibilidad de dejarle salir, pero las partes siguen trabajando en ello. @relevo— Matteo Moretto (@MatteMoretto) January 22, 2023
Sarr was a player we wanted to have loaned out before the World Cup because it looked like he wasn’t going to get any first team minutes under Antonio Conte. However, Conte got a good opportunity to work with him after he returned from Qatar, and Sarr has turned that into several good reserve performances and even a start in the North London Derby. He appears to have played his way into Conte’s plans, and while anything can happen in the last week of the window my guess is he stays at Spurs.
Not the best of sources and you should take that very much into account, but there’s an “exclusive” in Football Insider suggesting that Blackpool have made an offer to take Spurs academy graduate Harvey White on loan. Conte has raved about White over the past few months, praising his ability to take direction, his work rate in training, and his ability to play in a bunch of different positions. Case in point: in Harry Kane’s absence, White stepped out of his usual central midfield role and played as a false 9 in the first of Spurs’ mid-season post-World Cup friendlies.
White needs a loan. He may be a great training ground dude but Conte doesn’t think he’s ready for Premier League minutes, so a move to the Championship would make a lot of sense. Spurs haven’t yet made a decision on whether to let him leave; they should totally let him leave.