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Who’s on Tottenham Hotspur’s central defender want-list?

A quick look at Spurs’ options in January

Paris Saint-Germain v OGC Nice - Ligue 1 Uber Eats Photo by Franco Arland/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

With Cuti Romero now confirmed out for at least the next month, focus is squarely back on what kind of move(s) Tottenham Hotspur can make in the January transfer window to address their glaring shortcomings in central defense. There are reports (unconfirmed, obviously) that there are as many as six CBs on Spurs’ list, and that Ange Postecoglou would prefer that Tottenham bring the player in as quickly as possible when the window opens so they can get acclimated and up to speed as soon as they can.

So who’s on the list? Obviously, we don’t know for sure as Spurs’ recruitment team isn’t going to release that publicly. But there have been rumors, and that’s what we’re going to focus on.

Jean-Clair Todibo, Nice

Nice’s 23-year old defender is the most obvious name on the list, but also perhaps the least likely for a couple of reasons. He’d be an ideal addition due to his aggressiveness and his ability to play on both the left and right, making him positionally flexible. He’s less a backup and more a third starter — someone Big Ange could utilize depending on opposition as opposed to just when Cuti or van de Ven are unavailable. Tottenham have already opened talks for Todibo, but he’s also probably going to be expensive, is wanted by a bunch of other clubs, and might not be available until this summer. It seems likely that Todibo is at the top of Spurs’ list, but might not be the guy we actually sign next month.

Radu Dragusin, Genoa

Genoa’s 21-year old defender first popped up in Bat Country a few weeks ago in what at first looked like agent-driven garbage. But Spurs do appear to have a genuine interest in the Romanian defender, potentially the first Romanian at the club since cult hero Vlad Chiriches. Spurs have sent scouts to watch him play in Serie A and have reportedly been impressed with his tackling and ability to play out of the back. He’s listed at £26m, which is definitely an achievable target. What isn’t clear is where he comes on this list — he could be a “break glass in case everyone else is expensive or taking too long” option, or he could be an overlooked, Guglielmo Vicario-type signing.

Lloyd Kelly, Bournemouth

Tottenham tried to sign Lloyd Kelly this past summer only to have a £20m bid rejected by Bournemouth on deadline day as a left-sided central defender. I get the sense that the 25-year old was targeted as a rotation option (aka a warm body in defense) and less as a starter, but Spurs have seemingly maintained an interest in him. He’s currently in the last year of a five year contract that expires this summer, but he also sustained an injury at the beginning of the month that Bournemouth said would keep him out “some weeks.” A potential bargain, but not the most exciting signing out there.

Tosin Adarabioyo, Fulham

Spurs were linked with Adarabioyo pretty much all the way through the summer before ultimately making a move for Micky van de Ven. He’s another player with an expiring contract this summer (which might explain Spurs’ interest) — Fulham are apparently interested in renewing it, but Tosin isn’t likely to sign. He’s only made six league appearances due to a groin injury at the start of the season, but reports are he’d be keen to join Tottenham and could be had cheaply. Monaco is also linked.

Marc Guehi, Crystal Palace

Spurs have had a long-standing interest in the former Chelsea academy graduate and he’s been a mainstay in Roy Hodgson’s defensive line this season. That’s a big reason why he’d be difficult to acquire in January — Palace are unlikely to want to sell him at all, and if he did go he’d command a huge fee.

Jarrad Branthwaite / Ben Godfrey (Everton)

If we’re ruling out Guehi due to cost, then the same must be said about Branthwaite, who has been a lock-down starter alongside James Tarkowski for Sean Dyche this season. Godfrey is their backup and could be tempted to move if he wants more game time, but neither are likely to come cheap — Godfrey was a £30m signing in 2020. It’d be a lot easier to see Everton cashing in on one of them if they were as bad as the last two seasons, but Dyche has turned things around even with the ten point deduction for FFP and it’s hard to see them sanctioning a move for either player in January.

Somebody else?

A lot of the names on Spurs’ list are retreads of the players whom Spurs were interested in this past summer. That makes sense of course — especially for the players with expiring contracts. It’s tough to make signings in January, as the options are fewer and the window is small. But Spurs also have a nifty new recruitment team, and they’re likely also looking for transfer targets in other locations — smaller clubs on the continent, undervalued players who are flying under the radar, etc. Micky van de Ven wasn’t a transfer target until he was. Who knows! (We might know soon!)

Did I miss someone obvious, or less obvious? Who else do you think Tottenham should be looking at? Have your say in the comments.