Tottenham Hotspur were serious about signing Paulo Dybala from Juventus this summer before their Premier League rivals got involved.
That has essentially left the door open for Spurs to lead the charge for Dybala’s services should they wish to and Sky Sports Italia (via Football Italia) even claim a fresh €70m (£64.5m) bid has been tabled.
But going back in for the Argentine would be a fatal mistake.
The potential overall cost looks to be extortionate – the previously linked Daily Mail piece claims that his agent demanded a £15m payment simply to buy his image rights, while Dybala’s wage requirement was £350k per week.
But more importantly, the Spurs squad has a number of deficiencies that have to be addressed before nearly that kind of money is splashed out on another attacking player.
One has to point out that Dybala would likely be an excellent signing – this is a player once likened to Lionel Messi – and he would supplement the threat offered by Harry Kane very well as a second striker.
But he would also be a vanity buy. Indeed, with Christian Eriksen still at the club, Mauricio Pochettino has the Dane, Dele Alli, Heung-min Son, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela as his attacking midfielders. There is also interest in Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes, Giovani Lo Celso and Philippe Coutinho.
Bringing in Dybala, then, would be to ignore the squad’s most glaring deficiency: defence.
Kieran Trippier has departed for Atletico Madrid, leaving Spurs with Serge Aurier and Kyle Walker-Peters as their specialist right-backs. Aurier is currently sidelined with a hand injury after reportedly smacking a table in frustration during an Ivory Coast fixture at the African Cup of Nations and, really, that says more to his lack of discipline than any kind of statistic.
As for Walker-Peters, he has yet to really be given a chance at Spurs. He has made a total of 19 appearances for the club and seems to constantly be on the precipice of a breakthrough, only to be yanked back by his shirt collar.
FFC understands that Juan Foyth could be installed as the first-choice right-back in Trippier’s stead but, really, he is a centre-back and he has a lack of discipline that has cost him at the highest level, while his injury sustained against Bayern Munich has been a setback.
Over on the left, Danny Rose was left out of the pre-season tour of Asia to explore opportunities with other clubs. It did not come about prior to the Audi Cup, as he was included in the starting XI for the friendly against Real Madrid, but one imagines that Spurs actually want him to leave the club.
There have been links with Ryan Sessegnon, the Fulham full-back-cum-winger, but he is more an attacking player than a defender and talks are dragging over the deal, which has yet to be sealed.
Ben Davies, the other option, has not enjoyed a pre-season, missing the trip to Asia and the Audi Cup with injury after undergoing surgery in the summer so it is difficult to imagine the Wales international being fully up to speed when Spurs take on Aston Villa in their opening fixture of the 2019/20 season.
At centre-back, meanwhile, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are both into the final years of their contracts. If they aren’t going to be renewed, then a succession plan needs to be in place that spans wider than potentially promoting Foyth alongside Davinson Sanchez.
In the backline is where investment is needed. Of course, if Eriksen departs, then by all accounts, Spurs should be looking at goalscoring attacking midfielders.
But now, it feels like a dereliction of duty, particularly with Fernandes, Lo Celso and Coutinho already being targeted. To bring one of those in and then still swoop for Dybala wouldn’t just be misguided, it would be downright stupid.
Spurs need bodies at the back. Pochettino may feel that he can turn Foyth into an excellent full-back and he may well be right once he recovers. He could enjoy a breakthrough season.
But it’s a risk, particularly with Aurier and Walker-Peters as his deputies.
And if Rose leaves, the situation is all the bleaker on the other flank. Spurs simply cannot head into the season with one senior left-back, especially not one who has spent the entirety of the summer recovering from surgery.
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Buying Dybala would be the kind of coup that spawns its own hashtag. It would create real excitement.
But, really, it would be like putting a cherry on top of an unfinished cake mix. Spurs need to bake it before they start adding the decorations.
Indeed, Mauricio Pochettino has always been very good at that. Since his appointment in 2014, the club have been reserved in the transfer market.
They have bought Ndombele and Jack Clarke this summer but, previously, they have simply filled gaps that needed filling; very rarely have they indulged in vanity signings, players coming into the club simply because they are available.
Perhaps the last real example came in the 2014/15 season when Benjamin Stambouli joined the club. A defensive midfielder, he joined in the same window as Eric Dier, with Spurs already boasting the likes of Etienne Capoue, Mousa Dembele, Ryan Mason, and Nabil Bentaleb as their midfield options.
Stambouli ended up making just 25 appearances for the club and, while Dybala is clearly a better player than the Frenchman, who is now at Schalke 04, the similarities are there.
Dybala would join an already crowded attacking field.
Spurs cannot be tempted to go back in for him.