It wouldn’t be a transfer window if Paulo Dybala didn’t link his name with a move to Tottenham Hotspur.
The 28-year-old announced this month that he is leaving Juventus after seven years at Torino. Spurs have been mooted about signing the striker on a free transfer this summer after a season that has yielded 15 goals and six assists for the Argentine.
Tottenham tried to sign Dybala back in the summer of 2019 but failed to get a deal across the line for then-manager Mauricio Pochettino. With the Argentina international coming on a free release this summer, it was thought Spurs would make another attempt to finally bring him to north London and reports in Italy have expressed that interest.
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However, football.london understands that Spurs are not considering entering the race for Dybala at this point. It’s believed Tottenham’s football chief executive Fabio Paratici isn’t entirely convinced the striker is the right fit for Antonio Conte’s project.
It is understood Paratici was one of those at Juventus who wanted to use the striker in 2019 when he was in charge of transfers at the Turin club during the period Spurs were inquiring.
“I was about to leave. That was the club’s mindset, I knew that. We waited until the last minute,” Dybala told the Guardian later that season, before explaining that his manager Maurizio Sarri was not the one was who wanted him to go to Juventus.
Tottenham will be looking to sign a forward for Conte this season, particularly with the prospect of Champions League football being added to the schedule if Spurs can pick up a point at Norwich in the final game of the Premier League season on Sunday. The choice for Paratici and Conte will be whether to bring a natural number nine up front as a direct replacement or support for Harry Kane, or a striker who can also play wide to give them more minutes and the possible absence of Steven Bergwijn to equalize this summer as the Dutch attacker wants to play football regularly ahead of the World Cup.
Conte has previously explained that he wants the striker to be the center of his system, which lends itself to a more natural number nine. Spurs have long had an interest in Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin but acknowledge the 25-year-old, who would come with a hefty fee, is unlikely to move to a club where he is not a guaranteed starter.
Gabriel Jesus, who can also play on the flank, is another striker whom Tottenham admire and who is expected to leave Manchester City this summer when his contract reaches his final year. North London Spurs rivals Arsenal are believed to be favorites to sign Jesus and also have a long-standing interest in Calvert-Lewin. However, if Tottenham secured Champions League football against the Gunners they would be an attractive proposition for players.
football.london understands that another forward on Spurs’ radar is 23-year-old Napoli forward Victor Osimhen, who has scored 18 goals in 31 games for Napoli this season. Tottenham looked back at the Nigerian when he was in Ligue 1 at Lille and he would now come with a big fee after impressing in Italy.
A pair of talented 22-year-olds have also caught the attention of Spurs as well as most clubs across Europe. Real Sociedad’s Sweden striker Alexander Isak and Uruguayan international Darwin Nunez, who has scored 34 goals in 41 games for Benfica this season, are both interesting players, while Bayer Leverkusen’s 26-year-old Czech striker Patrick Schick is also keeping an eye out has plundered 24 goals in 31 games this season.
Both Conte and Paratici are fans of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez and Spurs tried to sign the 24-year-old last summer. However, the Argentine has since signed a new long-term contract and is expected to be extremely difficult to shake off the Serie A squad this year.
Many of Spurs’ best forward targets have long contracts and come with hefty fees and that will be at the heart of Tottenham’s forward dilemma this summer. If they’re going to spend big bucks on a new forward then it has to be someone who plays a lot of football rather than being a minor player in the sense of Spurs’ recent forwards like Carlos Vinicius, Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen.
Harry Kane is currently expected to remain at Spurs this summer, particularly if Champions League football is won and Conte stays on following his post-season meetings with Paratici and chairman Daniel Levy. Kane is said to be excited about what the future might hold under Conte.
Paratici and Conte will have to juggle the numbers and decide whether their bigger transfer deals are better placed elsewhere in the squad and whether a new forward falls into the cheaper backup category instead. On the financial side, the potential Champions League windfall would go a long way in helping offset some of the transfer payments Tottenham will have to make this summer before they can even start looking at new players. It will cost the club around £70m to make Cristian Romero and Dejan Kulusevski’s loans permanent.
Spurs will need a much larger squad next season not only to cope with a higher level of European football but also the new rule allowing teams to field five substitutes during Premier League games. Conte has repeatedly pointed to his small squad size as this season draws to a close, with the head coach being forced to bench up to four academy youth players at times, with just four or five first-team players injured.
Conte wants as many new players as possible to have arrived before or during preseason to familiarize them with his requirements. Spurs will look to bring in a number of new faces before the squad travel to South Korea for two pre-season games in mid-July.
Tottenham are looking for a left-back to rival Ben Davies, with Paratici said to be a big admirer of Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni. The 23-year-old has plenty of experience despite his age and would fit on the left side of Conte’s back three, much like Romero on the right. Inter are expected to ask in excess of £50m for the Italy international, who has two years left on his contract.
Spurs will also look to sign another central midfielder this summer, with Harry Winks expected to leave the club in search of regular football, and both former Tottenham man Christian Eriksen, who is available as a free agent this summer , as well as Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans are being discussed as potential targets. The club will also look for new full-backs to increase competition at both sides, with departures expected there, while departures at center-back could trigger another change of centre-back, with Joe Rodon aiming for regular football next season.
There’s also the homegrown aspect for Tottenham as they look to maintain their required numbers. Dele Alli left in January and Winks was able to follow him. Talented youngsters Dane Scarlett and Alfie Devine are expected to be loaned out next season to further their development.
Tottenham are expected to sign England goalkeeper Sam Johnstone on a free transfer this summer and are also expected to switch for Middlesbrough wing-back Djed Spence, 21, if his loan club Nottingham Forest fail to advance to the Premier League. Spurs are also one of many clubs looking to Spence’s 20-year-old Forest team-mate Brennan Johnson, alongside other young British talent in the Football League.
It’s going to be a busy transfer window for Paratici as he looks to build a squad that will keep Conte happy and build on what the Italian has already achieved at Tottenham.