Fabio Paratici is working on a transfer window like no other at Tottenham Hotspur to provide Antonio Conte with a team that can challenge on all fronts.
When the two Italians met on a hot morning in Turin five days after the end of the season they discussed plans and targets to assemble a much bigger and stronger squad that would allow the head coach to challenge the top clubs in the Premier League and the Champions League next season.
Conte was left particularly bewildered that towards the end of the campaign he had taken just four or five injuries to ensure he needed to name four young academy players on his bench, three without a Premier League appearance to their name and one in Dane Scarlett with just a handful of minutes from two late cameos. football.london understands the head coach is understood felt restricted at times last season with his inability to change games by having a bench full of players close to the level of his starting XI.
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Conte had made it very well known that, despite having another season left on his contract, he would need to feel that ‘his way’ was going to be backed as he could not spend two seasons at a club without chasing silverware or one simply being content with finishing in fourth place in the Champions League.
Boosted by the extra £150m pumped into the club by the owners ENIC, chairman Daniel Levy had already assured Conte that backing would come and Paratici has quickly gone about turning their best-laid plans into reality and the club are prepared to spend big to back their trophy-laden head coach.
The former Juventus director is a renowned workaholic, creating a spider’s web network of potential transfer deals before he decides which ones to push the button on. The 49-year-old has taken little time off since the season ended and the result is Spurs being about to make third signing of the summer despite the transfer window only opening on Friday.
Having already brought in Conte favorite Ivan Perisic on a free transfer and a homegrown addition in out of contract England international goalkeeper Fraser Forster, the club have made their move for 25-year-old Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma.
Conte asked for ready-made players in order for his new-look squad to hit the ground running this season and the Mali international has been one of the most impressive performers in the Premier League in recent years. With just a year left on his contract, Tottenham are expected to tie up a deal that is initially worth more than £25m, but could eventually rise beyond £30m with various add-ons, and the player is set to undergo his medical at the club later this week.
Conte’s central midfield options currently include Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur and Oliver Skipp, with Harry Winks expected to leave the club this summer with Everton among the interested parties, and Bissouma will add even more quality to those ranks as Spurs look to increase the level of the squad for all the competitions ahead.
The Brighton midfielder has been in the headlines this season off the pitch after he was arrested last year, along with another man, following an investigation into an incident at a Brighton nightclub.
In response to a query about the incident, Sussex Police told football.london: “A man in his 40s from Brighton who was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault has had his conditional bail extended until June 24, 2022. A man in his 20s, also from Brighton, who was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault has been released under investigation while inquiries continue.”
The Seagulls said back in October after the arrest: “Brighton & Hove Albion are aware that one of its players is assisting police with the investigation of an alleged offence. The matter is subject to a legal process and the club is therefore unable to make further comment at this time.”
Paratici is set to make further signings for Conte this summer with the plan to get as many of them through the door in time to take part in the head coach’s gruelling pre-season, during which he will lay down the requirements and philosophy he expects this season. Conte wants at least six new faces to arrive at the club and with the plan to get many of them in before the team’s tour to South Korea it will be a summer like no other for Spurs, who are renowned for leaving their transfer dealings until later inwindows.
Conte would still like a new left-sided centre-back, striker, creative midfielder and a right wing-back as well as replacing anyone he had in the squad at the end of the season who leaves the club this summer.
Returning loan players Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso are set to head out again, as could last summer’s signing Bryan Gil, while Winks, Steven Bergwijn and Joe Rodon are all expected to be among those who leave in search of regular football. Tottenham are also expected to listen to offers for Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal.
Spurs have held discussions internally about bringing Christian Eriksen back to the club. The Denmark international, who is nearing the end of his short-term contract at Brentford, is understood to be keen on remaining in London and Tottenham are hoping to convince him to work with Conte again, with Manchester United and the Bees also interested.
Tottenham are also expected to make a bid for Middlesbrough wing-back Djed Spence, who had a breakout season with Nottingham Forest and helped them earn promotion to the Premier League through the play-offs. The 21-year-old is understood to favor a move to Spurs, attracted by the prospect of playing in the Champions League and working with Conte, but the north London club are yet to agree a fee with Boro for the England U21 international, who is also of interest to Borussia Dortmund, Roma, Newcastle, Brentford and Forest.
Paratici is a big fan of Everton winger Richarlison and Spurs are monitoring his situation this summer, with the Liverpool club having shown an interest in Winks throughout January before and after Frank Lampard’s arrival and the potential of a mutually beneficially deal. Tottenham are also among the many clubs to have shown an interest in Leeds United’s Raphinha.
Conte would like a couple of new centre-backs, with RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi, Torino’s Gleison Bremer, Barcelona’s Clement Lenglet and 19-year-old Ukraine international centre-back Ilya Zabarnyi among the names on their shortlist.
Spurs have not closed the door entirely on a potential move for Inter’s Alessandro Bastoni, who has a big fan in Conte, as they continue to monitor the Serie A club’s financial situation but with other names linked with the exit door in Milan and the defender keen to remain there, it could take a drastic change in circumstances for that to move to happen at this point.
Among the current squad, Tottenham’s stars are also happy with Son Heung-min coming off a season in which he reached new heights in claiming the Premier League Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane is understood to be open to holding talks over a new deal in the coming months if the club continues to show ambition this summer. It is a situation far removed from a year ago with Kane now excited about what is to come under Conte and the chance to play in the Champions League again and also to win trophies with Spurs.
It is not just the first team where new signings are being made at the north London club. football.london understands that Spurs have snapped up highly-rated Ireland U19 goalkeeper Josh Keeley. The 19-year-old plays for St Patrick’s Athletic and will arrive at the Premier League club in the wake of five goalkeepers being released at various levels in recent weeks.
Paratici has also been busy off the pitch as he builds a new recruitment team around him at Spurs in the wake of technical performance director Steve Hitchen’s resignation back in February. Gretar Steinsson is set to join Spurs as performance director, along with Andy Scoulding as his assistant, with both highly-rated recruitment specialists taking on many of the tasks Hitchen had under his remit and more, across both the first team and academy.
Former Bolton defender Steinsson, 40, was the head of recruitment and development for three years at Everton, having been technical director of Fleetwood Town for four years before that. He was relieved of his duties at the struggling Toffees in December last year following a cull of senior management which saw director of football Marcel Brands removed after what was reported as a power struggle with then manager Rafa Benitez, and manager of scouting and operations Dan Purdy also moved on.
Highly-respected Scoulding, also 40, will join from Scottish side Rangers where he was head of scouting for four years, following previous positions the London-born specialist had with the FA, Salford City, Olympiacos and Valencia.
Focused on the link with the youth set-up and academy manager Dean Rastrick will be 48-year-old former Manchester City and Anderlecht coach Simon Davies, who has been tipped to take on the title of head of methodology, ensuring a closer synergy between the first team and academy levels.
Tottenham Hotspur are set to look very different by the time the new Premier League season arrives, with the fixtures arriving on Thursday morning. Paratici and Conte are determined to build a Spurs team that can finally end the fans’ wait for silverware and build the foundations for long-term success.