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REPORT: Tottenham in negotiations with Club Brugge for Antonio Nusa



You know how we’ve been saying for a while now that what Ange Postecoglou really needs for Tottenham Hotspur to fully flesh out his Ange-Ball tactics is a wide dribbly boi who is excellent in possession and loves to directly take on defenders to progress the ball into open spaces? It sounds like Tottenham might be close to signing that guy.

Belgian journalist Tomas Taecke, writing for Het Laatste Niews (HLN), is reporting tonight that Spurs are currently in negotiations with Club Brugge to sign 18-year-old Norwegian attacker Antonio Nusa.

Here’s the gist: the deal would reportedly be around €30m, not including performance-based escalators, and Nusa would be loaned back to Brugge for the remainder of the season before joining Spurs permanently next season. Nusa was of interest to a great number of Premier League clubs last summer including Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea. This time around Manchester United is said to be very interested, but don’t have the cash to make a move for him in this window.

Get excited.

There have been a couple of recent write-ups in the media about how, in the wake of Everton, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, and Chelsea’s public financial fair play issues, Spurs have found themselves uniquely and favorably poised to take advantage of the lack of liquidity in the Premier League this January. Dan Kilpatrick outlines this pretty concisely in the Evening Standard today: thanks to years of prudent financial management by Daniel Levy who has refused to spend outside of the club’s means, Tottenham have more financial flexibility to make moves in January when at other times they would face much stiffer competition from their rivals in the league. If this report is accurate, this deal for Nusa would be one example of that — Nusa is wanted by lots of teams. Few of them can actually make the move NOW without potentially getting into financial difficulty.

I know Nusa has been the subject of hushed whispers among Spurs supporters and his name has come up a lot in the comments during the January transfer window. I haven’t written on him yet because, frankly, there weren’t many actual links to him. Now there are. Nusa is just 18 but is one of the hottest young players in Europe. He’s a self-described chaos agent who loves to take defenders on the dribble and can play anywhere across the attacking band, and he’s even picked up the nickname “Norwegian Neymar.”

“I like to create chaos,” he told a Norwegian publication Aftenposten a couple of years back. “Neymar is my role model because he creates chaos on the pitch with his dribbling, just like me. He is one of the best in the world.” So far this season Nusa has attempted 114 take-ons in the Belgian Pro League and completed 57, meaning he successfully dribbles past someone exactly half the time he attempts it (and he attempts a LOT). He has 52 progressive carries of more than ten yards so far this season, almost twice as many as last season. Sure, that’s in the Belgian Pro League, but he’s also showing similar trends in Europe this season as well.

He’s a plus passer with a 70% completion rate overall and averaging 3.38 progressive passes/90. He can beat his man on the dribble, sucks defenders to him, and can also complete passes to open teammates at a decent clip. He’s also a good defender who is comfortable in the press.

In short, Nusa is more than just an exciting young player — he’s ready-made for Ange-Ball and has an impossibly high ceiling. I think he has the potential to be a future superstar.

And if you don’t believe me, try Nathan A. Clark of The Extra Inch, who puts it way more concisely than I ever could:

This doesn’t sound like a transfer that’s in the bag, far from it. We only have to look as far back as Radu Dragusin’s move to know that nothing is a sure thing in the transfer window. But it sure seems like Spurs have laid some track ahead of time with Nusa. Brugge look like they’re willing to sell (Nusa isn’t the kind of player they can hold onto indefinitely), Spurs are continuing to look like a team on the rise under a progressive manager, and sending him back to Belgium on loan for the rest of the season is probably a pretty good sweetener. And having the liquidity to swoop now instead of next summer seems like it’s giving Spurs the edge, at least in early negotiations.

One reason Tottenham were able to sign Pape Sarr was because they targeted him early and then sent him back to Metz on loan for a whole year to keep developing. I don’t know how many clubs would have the financial wherewithal to drop €30m for a young talent like Antonio Nusa in January, but there don’t appear to be many right now and Spurs are one of them.

I like to think of myself as being a measured, calm person during transfer windows, not letting myself get too worked up over transfer rumors. We should be a little patient even if Spurs do end up signing him — he’s still only 18 and it may take a year or so before he’s physically ready to compete at the top levels of the Premier League. I can’t help it this time — I’m excited. You should be too.