News emerged yesterday via some... let’s generously call them somewhat dubious sources that, faced with Brentford intransigence over David Raya, Tottenham are considering moving on to new goalkeeper targets. Those rumors are picking up steam today.
This in itself is not particularly surprising — Brentford are apparently playing hardball for Raya, a home-grown keeper in the last season of his contract who has already agreed personal terms with Spurs. Brentford are, it seems, sticking to their guns over what feels like an outlandish transfer fee demand of £40m, which is kinda odd considering they’ve already signed his replacement and there doesn’t appear to be much of a market for Raya outside of North London.
But whatever. It seems now that Spurs are publicly making it known that they’re going to start looking at other keepers I mean it mister if Brentford don’t come down off of their high horse. This is, as I’ve said a couple of times now, precisely how transfer negotiations work, especially those that are negotiated through the media. I still think the most likely outcome is that David Raya ends up a Tottenham Hotspur player.
But what if he doesn’t? Well, that might not be so bad either because in comparison to last season there are a bunch of viable keeper options on the market, and Spurs have options. Two of those options that have been mooted are Valencia’s Giorgi Mamardashvili, and Empoli keeper Guglielmo Vacario.
Let’s start with Mamardashvili, who actually is the very first name on my transfer tracker spreadsheet for this summer. The Georgian keeper is only 22 but is attracting a bunch of attention after excelling for Valencia this past season. He’s seriously impressive for a guy who’s younger than both Brandon Austin and Alfie Whiteman, and while you have to maybe adjust a bit for youthful inexperience and understand that the leap to the Premier League would be a large one, it’s be an opportunity for Spurs, like with Hugo Lloris, to get in on an exciting young player on the ground floor. He could potentially be a keeper Spurs hang onto for a decade.
There’s even a Spanish report saying Valencia would be quite happy selling him to Spurs. His purchase clause is €100m but it’s likely he goes a lot lower considering Valencia bought him for €500k two years ago. Plus his nickname is “Mama” and boy howdy the jokes will write themselves.
Vicario, on the other hand, is a much less heralded keeper and likely not a name fans are going to recognize, but his numbers kind of pop. He’s a big lad, 6’4”, and put up good shot stopping numbers for a pretty garbage Empoli team last season. That’s put him on the radar recently for clubs like Roma, Inter Milan, Juventus, and even Brighton & Manchester United. One of the thing most of these clubs have in common is that they have brainy stats guys who look for underrated players like this. Apparently that’s also us! Hooray!
There are some months-old reports that suggest Vicario, 26, could be had for €10m. I suspect that figure is a lot higher with the list of clubs who are monitoring him, but he does have the feel of a low-key hipster alternative to Raya, even if he isn’t homegrown.
And while Spurs haven’t really been linked to him since January, I also wonder about a player like Alban Lafont at Nantes, who is putting up some decent numbers for another terrible team in France, is young for a keeper at 24, and might be available. Same with AC Milan’s Mike Maignan, though Milan might be more difficult to convince to sell.
The point is — Raya might be Spurs’ first choice keeper, but the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Spurs backing out of a potentially overpriced transfer is probably unwarranted. The truth is there are a number of good options. I’d be more than happy with Mama, to be honest, perhaps more so than Raya. And if threatening to back out is what gets Brentford to crack, well, that’s good too.
Spurs have to get a keeper this summer, since Hugo’s already declared his intent to leave. I’m convinced that they’ll end up with a pretty good one in the end, even if it’s not David Raya.