Transfer Talk: Why Dusans of clubs are queuing up for Vlahovic
Dusan Vlahovic is a man in demand — and Tottenham could be ready to pounce for Fiorentina’s on-fire forward.
Spurs were heavily linked with the Serbian star during the summer but ultimately kept their powder dry when Harry Kane decided to remain in North London.
With the England captain and fellow frontman Heung-Min Son getting on the scoresheet in last Sunday’s victory over Newcastle, it is fair to say there may no longer be room for Vlahovic at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
As Nuno Espirito Santo’s men get ready to take on Vitesse in the Europa Conference League this evening, we consider what the future holds for one of Serie A’s hottest prospects.
Dusan’s the man
There were high hopes among the Tuscan faithful that they may have unearthed a gem back in January 2018.
After the Florence-based club had originally agreed a deal with Partizan the previous summer, Vlahovic’s arrival was hotly anticipated.
But as you would expect of a teenager miles from home, he initially struggled for both goals and game time in Italy.
However, a breakout 2020-21 campaign thrust him into the spotlight.
He netted 0.65 goals per 90 minutes in Serie A — the fifth-best return in the division and significantly higher than his expected goals (xG) figure of 0.57 per 90.
No one-season wonder
Expectations are always heightened after a good campaign and it would have been easy for Vlahovic to crumble under the pressure — but he has shown no signs of doing so this season.
With four goals from his opening eight Serie A matches — three of them penalties — he is not quite hitting the same levels as last term but his all-round performances have still been impressive.
Most tellingly, the 21-year-old striker is regularly working opposition goalkeepers, with 1.01 of his 2.53 shots per 90 finding the target.
Fiorentina’s American-Italian owner Rocco Commisso has so far failed in his attempts to tie Vlahovic down to a new contract — and with his deal set to expire in 2023, the Viola could be tempted to cash in on their prized asset while his value is sky-high.
Tottenham appear ready to match the reported £50million price tag for Fiorentina’s No9 but it is hard to see where he would slot into the side.
When the 6ft 3in frontman’s name first appeared in the club’s scouting meetings, it would have been to fill the void potentially left by Kane’s departure to Manchester City.
But with their talisman still at the club and Son one of the first names on the teamsheet, Vlahovic would go from being a leading marksman in Italy to a bit-part player in England.
Spurs’ dynamic duo are directly responsible for five of their nine Premier League goals this term.
And with Nuno yet to deploy a shape that would accommodate two out-and-out strikers, the Serbian may find it difficult to break into the starting line-up in North London.
Tottenham’s loss could be another Premier League side’s gain.
With new money to spend and survival to secure, Newcastle are said to be one of the contenders for Vlahovic’s signature — and it could be a perfect match for both parties.
A statement signing of a young European prospect would tick all the boxes for the club’s new owners, while also supplying competition for the injury-prone Callum Wilson.
But the Geordie faithful do not have to look far back to the last time they signed an up-and-coming Serbian forward, when former Magpie Aleksandar Mitrovic flattered to deceive on Tyneside.
At the other end of the table, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is also said to be keeping tabs on the Fiorentina star.
But with forward options including Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota, Vlahovic’s services could end up being wasted at Anfield.
Old Lady lurking
When a star appears to be on the verge of leaving Italian shores, Juventus have been known to swoop in at the last minute.
The Turin giants would provide Vlahovic with a safe option — he will know the language, know the culture and, more importantly, know he can do the business in Serie A.
A move to the Allianz Stadium would be mutually beneficial for both parties as Juve have failed to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
After all, Vlahovic’s tally of four goals this term is more than Moise Kean, Paulo Dybala or Alvaro Morata, who have each notched just twice in Italy's top tier this season.
He would also not be the first player in recent memory to trade in Florence for Turin, with Federico Chiesa having turned down an offer from Liverpool to join the Old Lady.
The 12-cap international is ready for his shot at the big time but Spurs may have to realise they simply cannot accommodate him in Nuno's current squad.