News Live Scores
Transfers

Vlahovic, Kessie & Brozovic: Conte's potential transfer targets at Tottenham

16:31 GMT+4 15/11/2021
Antonio Conte Dusan Vlahovic Franck Kessie Spurs Fiorentina AC Milan GFX
The Italian is an excellent coach but also notoriously demanding when it comes to new signings, so expect to see some fresh faces at Spurs soon

Antonio Conte is back in the Premier League and already putting his new Tottenham squad through their paces at Hotspur Way.

However, while the Italian has a well-deserved reputation for improving players, such as Romelu Lukaku, and making the most of the talent at his disposal – see Italy's Euro 2016 campaign – he is also extremely demanding when it comes to transfer targets.

Remember, this is the man that famously played down Juventus' hopes of Champions League glory in 2014 by publicly warning his then-employers, "You cannot eat in a €100 restaurant with just €10 in your pocket."

Conte firmly believes that a club must splash the cash in order to win the game's biggest prizes.

Of course, it remains to be seen just how much money Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is prepared to give Conte and sporting director Fabio Paratici to spend in the next two transfer windows, but it is clear that the current squad needs strengthening.

It would also be a massive surprise if promises were not made during Tottenham's talks with Conte about succeeding Nuno Espirito Santo as manager.

So, if Levy gets the chequebook out, who will Conte and Paratici go for?

Below, GOAL runs through some of Tottenham's potential transfer targets during the next two transfer windows...

Dusan Vlahovic

We already know that it is highly likely that Tottenham will look to Serie A to strengthen their squad.

Conte and Paratici obviously know the Italian market inside out and, right now, Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic is one of the most coveted players on the planet.

Indeed, Spurs have long been linked with the man who has scored more Serie A goals (25) than anyone else in 2021.

It is also worth noting that only Robert Lewandowski (37) and Erling Haaland (26) have scored more league goals this year. What's more, his minutes to league goals ratio in 2021 (125.92) is better than Cristiano Ronaldo's (126.48).

Of course, all of this means that Spurs will face stiff competition for the Serbia international's services, with Juventus long-time admirers of the 21-year-old.

There is also the fact that Fiorentina will not be willing to let their star player leave on the cheap.

As revealed by GOAL's very own Romeo Agresti last week, the Viola want at least €80 million (£68.5m/$92m) for the No.9, and believe there is every chance of a cash-rich Premier League club meeting their asking price, particularly if a bidding war breaks out in January.

Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano has already stated he would like to keep Vlahovic for the remainder of the season, but the tall, technically gifted attacker has already made it clear that he has no intention of extending a contract that expires 2023.

The Viola, then, are open to a sale, but the player and his agent will be key in all of this.

GOAL understands that Arsenal will not enter the fray, but Conte's arrival will undoubtedly make a move to the other side of north London far more appealing to Vlahovic than it was during the summer.

After all, the Italian has already proven with Lukaku at Inter that he can take a striker to a whole other level, so he could work wonders with a still-raw talent with as much potential as Vlahovic.

Franck Kessie

Franck Kessie has long been linked with a move to England. He was even poised to join Sunderland in 2016, only for the transfer to collapse because of the Ivorian's inability to obtain a work permit.

That was no bad thing, of course, given the player and the club have gone in very different directions since.

After a pivotal loan spell at Cesena, during which he was transformed from a centre-half into a midfielder, Kessie took Serie A by storm with Atalanta, earning himself a transfer to AC Milan in 2017.

The €24 million (£20.5m/$27.5m) fee proved an absolute steal, with Kessie now firmly established as one of the best players in Italy's top flight.

The problem for Milan, though, is that Kessie's contract expires at the end of the season and no progress is being made on a renewal.

“He’s a top player and the market teaches us that more and more great players choose to reach the end of their contract to have much richer salaries elsewhere,” former Milan ace Massimo Ambrosini told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“A club like Milan should not be taken by the neck by anyone. Just make them the best possible offer, as it was for [Gigi] Donnarumma and [Hakan] Calhanoglu, but setting a limit.

“One must deserve to play for Milan. Kessie did it with the level of performances, with his leadership, always playing and never holding back, so I hope for the good of Milan that Franck accepts a new offer and remains convinced of the choice.”

Unfortunately, while his agent has denied claims that the player has turned down a new deal worth €6.5m (£5.6m/$7.5m) per annum because he is holding out for €9m (£7.7m/$10.3m), meaning there is still a chance an agreement can be found, it is clear that time is running out for the Rossoneri.

Kessie will be free to speak with interested parties in just over six weeks' time, and a host of Europe's top clubs are now circling in the hope of picking up 'the new Yaya Toure' for a knockdown fee in January – or absolutely nothing next summer.

Kessie has previously stated that he has long dreamed of playing for Manchester United, but Spurs will doubtless be in the running for a player with the right mix of intelligence, skill, drive and physicality for a Conte midfield.

Stefan de Vrij & Marcelo Brozovic

As soon as Conte's appointment was confirmed, the excitement among Tottenham fans was matched only by the sense of dread among their Inter counterparts.

After all, he formed an incredibly strong bond with several members of the Nerazzurri squad during their two seasons together.

However, talk of Spurs swooping for the likes of Alessandro Bastoni, Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez is fanciful in the extreme.

Inter's owners, Suning, may have been decimated by the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, resulting in the sales of Achraf Hakimi and Lukaku, but Bastoni, Barella and Lautaro have all recently signed new contracts with the club and are pillars of their new project.

There is also the fact that Beppe Marotta would be loath to sell any top players to Tottenham. The Inter CEO has been coy on the current status of his relationship with Conte, but it is well known that there is bad blood between Marotta and Paratici, dating back to the former's Juventus exit.

Still, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that one of Conte's Scudetto winners could end up in north London.

Stefan de Vrij, for example, has just over 18 months left on his contract, so Inter could be tempted by a big-money bid for the 29-year-old Dutch centre-half.

Granted, De Vrij previously played under Simone Inzaghi, who succeeded Conte at the helm at San Siro, but there is mounting speculation in Milan that the Netherlands international would be open to a transfer.

It will also be worth keeping a very close eye on Marcelo Brozovic's contractual situation.

The Croatia midfielder developed enormously under Conte, becoming a key cog in the team that romped to the title just a couple of seasons after he seemed set to be shown the door for a lack of consistency and discipline.

The same fans that used to boo Brozovic now laud him for his impressive engine, which allows him to cover a ridiculous amount of ground, and the vastly improved accuracy and range of his passing.

However, like Kessie, he is also out of contract next summer and, like Kessie, is also believed to be demanding a wage that this current employers are simply not in a position to grant.

If no deal is struck before January 1, Brozovic will probably be the first player Conte asks Paratici to contact.