Tottenham Hotspur are prioritising the addition of a left-sided centre-back this summer and it’s thought that they have two clear choices…
According to ever-reliable journalist Alasdair Gold of football.london, the north London outfit have made Inter Milan defender Alessandro Bastoni and RB Leipzig gem Josko Gvardiol their two main targets this off-season.
Both are likely to cost in excess of £51m, though it is the latter who could offer Spurs more, even despite manager Antonio Conte previously working with the Italy international.
In the past, The Athletic’s Jack Pitt-Brooke has stated that it could take “as much as £70m or £80m” to prise the Croatian away from the Bundesliga club. Meanwhile, Transfermarkt value him at just £27m, having cost Leipzig around £13.5m plus add-ons.
It’s no surprise that the Spurs boss would be keen on bringing Bastoni over to England, having managed him at the San Siro on their way to the club’s first Serie A title in over a decade in 2021.
He certainly has plenty of attributes which could appeal to Conte, too. However, when comparing them to the former Dinamo Zagreb starlet, there’s evidently only one winner.
The 20-year-old colossus has emerged as one of Europe’s most talented young defenders, enjoying a run in Leipzig’s starting XI this season. Only two other players registered a better seasonal WhoScored rating than him – the free-scoring Christopher Nkunku and his defensive partner Willi Orban.
He has also offered Domenico Tedesco great versatility by also being capable of playing at left-back, being a natural left-footer – the one gap in Spurs’ backline right now.
“Since he was a child, he’s been built like a tank. He can go forward, he can jump, he can tackle – he can do everything you want,” once claimed Germania Sport assistant editor Izak Ante Sucic, who also compared him to a current Premier League monster.
“In Croatia, we like to compare him to Virgil van Dijk, because he’s built that way (6ft 1in). He’s one of his role models in football and he’s also mentioned Thiago Silva and Sergio Ramos.”
Over the course of their respective careers to date, Gvardiol outranks Bastoni in pretty much every metric that Conte should be looking for in a central defender in his system.
As per FBRef, the young colossus is performing greater defensively, averaging more interceptions (3.30 vs 1.07) and tackles (2.01 vs 1.68) per 90, whilst his passing ability is unrivalled, too.
The 6 foot 1 star makes nearly two more progressive passes per 90 than the Inter man, meaning he’s successfully playing the ball forward more, whilst an xG&A of 0.16, compared to Bastoni’s 0.09 suggests that he can be a bigger threat from set-pieces and when attacking the opposition.
That’s also backed up by the fact that Gvardiol also outranks him for aerial duels won per 90 (2.65 vs 1.97). You have to consider just how defensive the Italian top-flight game is as well, making the Leipzig talent’s numbers all that more impressive when comparing the two.
All in all, it could be very worthwhile for sporting director Fabio Paratici and chairman Daniel Levy to pay up for Gvardiol over the £51m-rated Bastoni, on the above evidence alone.
His form and potential at just 20 years of age is surely too enticing to ignore. He must be the no.1 option between the two main targets.