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Transfer Talk: Spurs need defensive recruits to contend with top Guns
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Mitchell Fretton
Tottenham could make a bid for Netherlands full-back Denzel Dumfries in January
Tottenham could make a bid for Netherlands full-back Denzel Dumfries in January

Tottenham started the Premier League season with a flourish but faded in the final few weeks before the World Cup break.

Antonio Conte's side sit fourth in England's top flight, eight points behind leaders and local rivals Arsenal, but the Italian head coach will be working hard behind the scenes to continue improving his squad.

Spurs have conceded 21 goals in their first 15 games — more than any other side in the top eight.

With defensive reinforcements on director Fabio Paratici's wish list, we take a look at some potential recruits that could arrive in North London in January.

World-class wing-backs

Conte has opted to stick with Brazilian right wing-back Emerson Royal for the majority of Premier League games, but he has often been highlighted as a weakness in the 3-4-3 system.

With a heavy reliance on the creative and defensive work of his full-backs, Conte will be keen on bringing in a player that can win the ball back high up the pitch, something Royal has done only five times this season.

One name linked with the club is Inter Milan defender Denzel Dumfries who is impressing with the Netherlands in Qatar.

The Dutch international has completed nearly double the amount of crosses as the Brazilian in 15 Serie A outings and has had 10 more shots.

His creative output far exceeds any player in that position at Spurs — Dumfries has created eight big chances to Royal's zero and has attempted more take-ons.

The attacking prowess and accuracy of someone like Dumfries would help make Spurs a more significant threat in the final third.

An upgrade in net

Diogo Costa is an established starter for Portugal
Diogo Costa is an established starter for Portugal

There is a long-standing debate between Spurs fans and their rivals around the quality of Hugo Lloris, but there is no denying that the 35-year-old Frenchman is ageing. 

Fraser Forster, 34, was brought in on a free transfer last summer, but he too is in the twilight of his career and will not be a long-standing replacement for the World Cup winner.

A few names have been circulating around the club, with Southampton's Gavin Bazunu, Brighton's Robert Sanchez and Leeds' Illan Meslier all said to be on Spurs' shortlist.

Porto and Portugal stopper Diogo Costa is one of the most desired keepers in Europe at the moment and Tottenham, alongside others, will undoubtedly be exploring a deal.

The 23-year-old has already kept one clean sheet for his national side at the World Cup and has only conceded twice in two games.

His reported £65million release clause is a hefty fee but should Spurs attempt to swoop in, they would be guaranteed a keeper who will only improve and is in for the long haul.

Lacking creativity

Much has been said about Tottenham's reliance on Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son over the years and this opinion has continued to grow since the departure of Christian Eriksen.

Many fans called for the club to sign James Maddison last summer, but Leicester's attempts to inflate his price meant that the England international remained in the East Midlands.

Conte does look short of some creativity in the middle of the park, something Ruslan Malinovskyi could provide a solution to in January.

Currently thriving at Atalanta, the 29-year-old was also linked with a move to England last summer, but nothing materialised.

Although the Ukrainian only has three goal contributions in Serie A this season, his effectiveness as a creative outlet is not in doubt — he has created 13 chances and ranks in the top 10 for completed through balls in the 2022-23 campaign.

There may be other options available to Conte, but a deal could be struck for less than £15m and may prove to be a quick fix for an ongoing issue in N17.

Defensive solidity

Alessandro Bastoni is a top target for Antonio Conte
Alessandro Bastoni is a top target for Antonio Conte

Multiple reports suggested that Conte was desperate to bring centre-back Alessandro Bastoni from Inter to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the last transfer window.

But the player's camp quashed the rumours and stated that he wants to stay in Milan for the foreseeable future — a big blow for the Italian coach.

Since then, Spurs have been linked with Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, Pau Torres and Piero Hincapie among many others.

There is certainly a need for a defensive rock, with Cristian Romero currently the only elite defender in Conte's ranks.

Both Ben Davies and Eric Dier are useful options for rotation, but they, like Clement Lenglet, are likely to be upgraded should the 53-year-old boss stick around.

Skriniar is coming to the end of his contract at Inter in 2023, while Hincapie could also be available for a bargain price — Spurs will no doubt assess their options before plunging into the market.


Premier LeagueTottenham Hotspur
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