Tottenham Hotspur are said to be on the hunt for a new central defensive leader for their back four this summer, according to the ever-reliable Alasdair Gold at football.london.
It’s claimed that there has been a ‘clear lack of cohesion’ and ‘leadership’ in the backline this season, even despite Spurs holding the accolade of having the third-best defensive record in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho has frequently chopped and changed his central options, currently, Davinson Sanchez and Joe Rodon are the flavours of the month but it is Eric Dier, who has been snubbed from six straight league games, that has started the most matches (21) in the role this term.
Whilst there are increasing doubts over the future of vastly experienced Toby Alderweireld amid reports he could return to his home country, Belgium.
It’s no wonder that a new option in defence is the top priority in the upcoming transfer window, and as such, the north Londoners have been linked to an array of names, including former target Milan Skriniar, who was close to joining last summer.
As Gold outlines in his article, Spurs came close but in the end, a £12m difference in valuation stopped them from securing the Inter Milan beast. His price tag will have only increased substantially as Antonio Conte’s side find themselves leading the Serie A, and the Slovakian has been crucial at the back.
Italian transfer guru Fabirizo Romano believes Inter would now want in the region of £63m to £68m, and that’s just not something Spurs will be able to afford unless they offload several key players.
But following the successful signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Levy would be smart to raid Southampton once again this summer as Jannik Vestergaard is a viable and far cheaper alternative.
According to the Daily Express, Spurs are to step up interest in the Saints star as he’d only cost around £18m.
In comparison to Skriniar, the Danish man-mountain has the benefit of Premier League experience, and that seems like it would be a better immediate fix right now than having to wait for a foreign player to adapt to new surroundings.
Despite James Ward-Prowse taking the armband from Hojbjerg at the end of last season, the 6 foot 6 colossus is regarded as one of Ralph Hassenhuttl’s key influences.
Speaking to HampshireLive, the Saints boss claimed: “I think he feels at the moment like a real leader on the pitch. When he performs well and shows the form that he has shown since the summer break, since then he has been physically strong, he is definitely one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League.”
In addition to his clear aerial ability (3.6 duels won per game) and strength (as evident above), Vestergaard is able to dictate play from the back, a key factor towards why he could well be best-suited for the role Spurs are so desperate for this summer.
The £16.2m-rated defender’s average passing accuracy of 83.7%, despite playing more long balls than any other outfield player (3.6), is enough to rank him alongside some of their best midfielders and even above the likes of Oriol Romeu and Stuart Armstrong, via WhoScored.
Of course, a perfect case can be made for Skriniar, but given Vestergaard’s experience, form in the Premier League, and price tag, there should only be one answer to who Spurs should sign.
Simply put, Levy must sanction another snatch-and-grab on Southampton this summer.