So Tottenham Hotspur are probably going to buy a central defender in January. They kind of have to — with Micky van de Ven out until at least early January, Spurs are one Cuti Romero red card away from playing what I jokingly referred to as the Oops, All Fullbacks! back line that we saw against Aston Villa. Safe to say that Spurs are thin in that position.
There are a couple of names on the shortlist from past reporting, including Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly whom Spurs unsuccessfully tried to sign on deadline day this past summer, Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi, and Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite. But now there’s a new name on the list — 23-year old Nice defender Jean-Claire Todibo.
Before you get too excited, there’s not much HERE here — Nizar Kinsella, in his new digs at the Evening Standard, writes that Spurs have “entered the race” to sign the France international defender, but also notes that he’s also probably on the list of just about every major European team that wants (or thinks they want) a central defender. He’s rated at £39m, but would likely cost significantly more than that, and whether Nice would even entertain selling Todibo at all midway through a title-challenging season is very much an open question.
Kinsella states that Todibo would like to move to the Premier League, but that he wants assurances of regular playing time. That’s less of an issue if Spurs qualify for a Europe this season. Anyway, I’m sure Spurs would love to sign him, but there’s not a whole lot of meat on these transfer rumor bones. So, y’know, caveat emptor if you’re “buying” this rumor or whatever.
That said, Todibo is pretty great. Nice are one of the upstarts in Ligue 1 this season, currently one point behind PSG and having conceded just four goals in 13 games. A lot of that comes down to Todibo, who has played almost every minute for Nice so far this season and who has formed a nice partnership with 40-year old Brazilian CB and club captain Dante.
The Extra Inch’s Nathan A. Clark, who is much smarter and tactically astute than I am, also had very nice things to say about Todibo and his potential fit into Ange-Ball, so I’ll let him speak for me here.
Todibo is a technically gifted & aggressive right-footed defender - a good profile match for Romero.— Nathan (@NathanAClark) November 28, 2023
But I think his skill & explosive pace means he could also play the passive left-sided role.
IMO this makes him possibly the best candidate on the market for Spurs this January. https://t.co/9KQzsHAaLs pic.twitter.com/uRyinCnAsw
This is a cool rumor because it involves a very good player who fits a definite need for Tottenham and would improve the team substantially. But a rumor that states a club has “joined the race” to sign said player isn’t the most solid footing on which to stand. I have no doubt Jean-Claire Todibo is on Johan Lange’s list for January, but we’ve got a ways to go before we know whether this is something about which we really should be getting our hopes up.