This is a special report; all information, unless otherwise stated, has been gleaned from Football FanCast sources.
Tottenham Hotspur could send Giovani Lo Celso back to Real Betis as they attempt to buy Manchester United target Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon, sources have told Football FanCast.
The London club are attempting to negotiate a deal with the Portugal international, who was a target of Mauricio Pochettino in the summer.
Spurs tabled a bid in the last transfer window but one of the club’s powerbrokers said that the bonuses involved in the offer were “difficult” which led to the offer being rejected.
However, sources familiar with Spurs’ recruitment have told FFC that the club are now attempting to do a deal that would potentially see Lo Celso’s spell at the club cut short.
A true test for any Spurs fan: Can you match these iconic images with the right results?
A move for Fernandes would cost around €60m (£51m) and a delegation from the north London club met with representatives from Sporting in London on Saturday.
Manchester United have also been credited with an interest in Fernandes and The Athletic has reported that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the club’s manager, travelled to Portugal to watch the attacking midfielder in person.
O Jogo’s Filipe Dias, meanwhile, recently claimed that United are closing in on the midfielder, telling Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast: “The story so far is that United this time are really closing in on Bruno Fernandes. We ran the story that there are talks between the two clubs and we figured that a deal might be close in the next few days, or hours even, because Sporting need money badly.”
“Talks have been intensified in the last couple of days, so we’re kind of expecting that it might be close,” he added.
However, Tottenham are now having their own talks with the Portuguese club and there is also a possibility that they could involve young defender Juan Foyth in any deal, though it is not clear if that would be a loan or a permanent transfer.
Foyth has struggled for game time this season and has played just 46 minutes of Premier League football under Jose Mourinho.
Fernandes has scored 13 goals and provided 13 assists in all competitions and he plays primarily as an attacking midfielder, the role that Lo Celso occupied most frequently for Real Betis last season.
However, the Argentine, who scored 16 goals in 2018/19, has yet to make a significant impact since his initial loan switch, playing 12 times in the Premier League but making just two starts. He has completed the 90 minutes once, against Sheffield United in Pochettino’s final game in charge.
Sources at the club claim that there is an option to send him back to the Spanish club, though they are also able to buy him permanently this month should they so wish.
At this point, if Fernandes is signed, it is likely that Spurs will look to offload Lo Celso.
There is also the added wrinkle of Christian Eriksen’s future.
Inter Milan are interested in signing the Denmark international this month even though his contract expires at the end of the season.
Such a move, to send a delegation to meet with Sporting and attempt to negotiate such a big-money transfer, points to confidence that Eriksen can be offloaded this month for a fee that would stand at around £20m.
Spurs have not signed a player in January since 2018 when they brought in Lucas Moura from PSG.
It remains to be seen, of course, if Spurs will have to fend off more interest from United; there is the possibility that Sporting could use two competing bids to drive Fernandes’ price up.
He signed a new contract recently, though that deal was reportedly designed to increase his buyout clause to €100m (£85.1m) rather than secure his future.
Meanwhile, Spurs could well have been better than Liverpool for one reason!