Transfer Talk: Why Premier League clubs are so Inter Bastoni
Alessandro Bastoni has been heavily linked with a move away from Inter Milan this summer.
The Italian, 23, performed exceptionally well at the heart of a defence that conceded the third-fewest goals in Serie A last season.
At an early stage of his career, Bastoni has almost four full seasons of football under his belt and has the potential to become one of the world’s finest centre-backs.
We take a look at what makes him a special talent and why he is being pursued by Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham as Italy prepare to face England tomorrow night.
Bastoni plays on the left of a back three for Inter and totalled 42 appearances last season, scoring once and providing three assists.
As shown on his heat map (below), Bastoni likes to carry the ball out from defence and excels in launching counter-attacks with his passing in a similar manner to the likes of Cristian Romero and Aymeric Laporte.
He regularly displays great composure on the ball with the ability to pick a defence-splitting pass from deep, displaying the characteristics of a central midfielder.
Inter’s rising star progressed through Atalanta’s academy — a side who are all about attacking football with their defenders pushing high up the pitch.
The No95 is able to deal with counters well, thrives in one-on-one situations due to his positional awareness and, standing at 6ft 3in, seems to be an ideal fit for the English top flight.
Bastoni can adapt to a different system and has put in some reassuring performances in Italy's back four, recently starting in Nations League games against Germany and Hungary.
With Juventus veterans Giorgio Chiellini, 37, and Leonardo Bonucci, 35 nearing the end of their careers, Bastoni is the future of Italian football.
Inter need cash
It has been widely reported that Inter need to sell at least one of their stars this summer in order to generate revenue.
The Nerazzurri are having cash troubles after extending some of their biggest earners' contracts, namely Bastoni, Lautaro Martinez, Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic.
This has been an ongoing problem for a couple of years as after the 2020-21 season the club announced a loss of £209million — the highest in the history of Italian football.
The Coppa Italia champions offloaded Achraf Hakimi to PSG and Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea for a combined £160m last year to help balance the books.
Bastoni is valued at around £60m and has two years remaining on his deal, meaning Inter may opt to cash in as he will be worth considerably less next summer.
Conte’s top target
Tottenham have been frontrunners in the battle for Bastoni’s signature as Antonio Conte looks to challenge for titles.
He played under Conte when he won the 2020-21 Scudetto at Inter.
The Spurs boss has chosen to prioritise upgrading his defence this window and has already gone shopping at his former club after securing Ivan Perisic on a free transfer.
Ben Davies, 29, has come on leaps and bounds under Conte but Bastoni is the ideal fit for his fellow Italian's tactical system.
Blues package deal
Lukaku’s club-record £97.5m return to Stamford Bridge failed to work out and with the Belgian reportedly willing to leave after just one season, the Italian outfit are keen to get him back.
According to reports, Bastoni, Martinez and Skriniar could all be involved in a swap deal to bring the striker back to Milan.
The Blues are looking to replace the outgoing Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, with a swap deal for Bastoni making sense for both parties.
Red Devils interest
Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United have been linked with a move for the defensive rock as they look to recover from a poor season.
The Red Devils finished sixth and shipped 57 goals — the second-most of any top 10 side.
Harry Maguire's form has been a concern and Raphael Varane is struggling with injuries so swooping for a top-class defender will be high on Ten Hag's list of priorities.
Right time to strike?
With Italy set to face England in the Nations League tomorrow, many eyes will be on Bastoni to see how he fares against some of the Premier League’s best.
Fellow Inter centre-back Skriniar has one year left on his deal and is reportedly in talks with Paris Saint-Germain, which could mean that Bastoni may have to stay put this window.
His agent Tullio Tinti, who also represents the Serie A club's boss Simone Inzaghi, insists the rising star is happy in Italy and intends to stay.
He said: "Bastoni will certainly remain at Inter. He has a contract with Inter, he is happy to play at Inter and there’s no problem."
The centre-half, alongside the rest of his nation, will be gutted to have not qualified for the World Cup, which can also be seen as an audition for the transfer market.
If Inter fail to tie Bastoni down to a new contract this season, expect the battle to lure him away from the San Siro next summer to resume.