Antonio Conte is said to be keen on six new players to overhaul his Tottenham squad and aim to challenge for the Premier League title next year.
In his first summer at the club, the Italian signed Cristian Romero, Bryan Gil, Emerson Royal and Pape Matar Sarr, with Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski arriving in January.
But according to the Telegraph, he will inform chairman Daniel Levy and club chief Fabio Paratici that he wants six players to revamp the team and fulfil his ambitions of a title charge and trophies, rather than just aiming for Champions League football, in crunch talks at the end of the campaign – just 12 months before his contract ends.
Spurs are locked in a tense battle for fourth spot with bitter rivals Arsenal – with Conte’s side level on points but ahead on goal difference with six matches left this season – and Manchester United, three behind having played a game more.
Whether they qualify or not will dictate the extent to which the club can spend big, but Conte recognises the demands of playing in Europe, whether in the Champions League or Europa League, necessitates a bigger and deeper squad.
The parsimonious Levy may, however, be reluctant to empty the club’s coffers given the recent albeit successful signings of Romero, Bentancur and Kulusevski, and the big-money summer deals for Gil and Royal, neither of which have worked out.
Similarly, Spurs’ plans may be affected by UEFA rules on homegrown players, which could limit their ability to dip into the overseas transfer market, as have exclusively done in Conte’s first year in charge.
So below, Sportsmail looks at the six stars Conte is targeting – including former player Christian Eriksen, Leeds star Kalvin Phillips and Middlesbrough tyro Djed Spence – to reinvigorate Tottenham ahead of an attempted title tilt next season.
Antonio Conte (above) reportedly wants six new players as he targets a title charge next year
The Italian is set for a meeting with club chief Fabio Paratici (above) to outline his ambitions
HOMEGROWN PLAYER RULES
The unedifying exit from the Europa Conference League group stages meant UEFA’s rules limiting overseas players in the squad did not apply when signing Juventus duo Bentancur and Kulusevski in January.
That means Spurs currently have 16 players in their first-team squad who would count as ‘foreign’ in European competition, one below the limit of 17, but with Bryan Gil, Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso set to return from loan it would be 19.
Even if Sam Johnstone replaces Pierluigi Gollini as backup goalkeeper and Gil, Ndombele and Lo Celso leave on loan or are sold, there are only two slots for new overseas signings, three if Welshman Joe Rodon leaves as expected.
Conte’s plans would, then, be affected and he may have to keep one of the few ‘club trained’ players in Harry Winks even if two midfielders arrive, and sell Lucas Moura or Steven Bergwijn to get in a backup forward.
Chairman Daniel Levy may be reluctant to empty the club’s coffers – particularly if Spurs do not qualify for the Champions League and receive the riches qualification entails
GOALKEEPER – Sam Johnstone
With Gollini, on loan from Atalanta, set to return to Italy this summer, Conte is in the market for a reserve goalkeeper and West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Johnstone, available on a free as his contract expires this summer, is the man Conte is going for.
Three-cap England international Johnstone, 29, – who impressed even as West Brom were relegated last season – is also wanted by Everton, but would be unlikely to displace Jordan Pickford, 28.
Although Spurs captain Hugo Lloris is a trusted and experienced No 1, Johnstone is thought to believe he can eventually displace the 35-year-old.
Former Manchester United stopper Johnstone is said to have informed his inner circle he is keen on a move to North London. Spurs are optimistic of signing him and replacing Gollini with the Englishman would help the club’s European quota.
Spurs are optimistic of signing goalkeeper Sam Johnstone for free from West Bromwich Albion
RIGHT WING-BACK – Wilfried Singo, Djed Spence
With the club already said to be willing to let £25.8million August arrival Emerson Royal go – a damning indictment of that move – and doubts over Matt Doherty’s consistency despite a recent upturn in form, Spurs want a new right wing-back.
Torino’s Wilfried Singo and Nottingham Forest tyro Djed Spence are understood to be the main two contenders.
Ivory Coast international Singo, 21, made his breakthrough with the Serie A side last season and has impressed with his technique and athleticism in the division’s fifth-meanest defence.
Spurs may aim for Middlesbrough Djed Spence rather than Torino’s Wilfried Singo as a new wing-back as the Englishman would help the club abide by UEFA rules on homegrown players
Middlesbrough’s Spence, meanwhile, is wanted by several top European sides after spearheading his loan club Nottingham Forest’s Championship promotion push, with Spurs enquiring over his availability in January.
If Spurs cannot shift Emerson, they may be forced to go for the 21-year-old Englishman, an exciting attacking defender, ahead of Singo to comply with those UEFA rules.
Inter Milan’s Dutch star Denzel Dumfries, who has shared game time with Matteo Darmian and Danilo D’Ambrosio this season, would be an outside bet – although Conte knows Inter well, having only left last summer.
CENTRE BACK – Gleison Bremer
As reported by Sportsmail on Wednesday, the North London side are readying a £42million double swoop for Singo and his Torino team-mate Gleison Bremer, according to Tuttosport.
The classy centre half is also wanted by several Premier League heavyweights, including Liverpool, Newcastle, and Arsenal.
However, Bremer would only be a guaranteed start at Spurs and Newcastle, and the former may be a more prestigious move with the likelihood of European competition.
The Brazilian, 25, would slot straight into Conte’s back three – a system he currently plays at Torino – likely alongside Romero and Eric Dier, with Ben Davies and Japhet Tanganga as backup. Davinson Sanchez and Joe Rodon could both leave.
Singo’s team-mate Gleison Bremer (centre) would likely slot into the back three if he signed
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – Youri Tielemans, Kalvin Phillips
Bentancur, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Oliver Skipp – who has just signed a new five-year contract – offer a decent core for Conte’s midfield engine room, but cover and competition is desirable.
Winks is out of favour, the hugely expensive Lo Celso and Ndombele look to have no real future at the club and teenager Pape Matar Sarr is talented but raw.
Leicester star Youri Tielemans is expected to leave the King Power this summer, as he has just one year left on his contract and the Foxes keen to get what they can before losing him on a free in 2023. There are however some reservations at Spurs about the Belgian.
Conte likes Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips – but Manchester United could outbid the north London side
Kalvin Phillips would also be an oven-ready first-team star who could beef up the midfield.
However, with several other signings wanted, Spurs may struggle to compete with Manchester United’s financial might if the Red Devils go all-in on signing the England star.
Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara, available on a free this summer, would be a cheaper but riskier option.
PLAYMAKER – Christian Eriksen, Antonin Barak
Christian Eriksen back to Spurs? What a fairytale return that would be.
The inspiring attacking midfielder spent seven brilliant years at Spurs before leaving for Inter Milan.
After recovering from his cardiac arrest on the pitch at Euro 2020 for Denmark, the 30-year-old signed for Brentford on a free transfer and has slowly displayed his attacking quality.
Playing in a midfield three, the 111-cap international has recorded two assists and one goal in just five starts and indicated he could be ready for a return to the top level.
There could also be a fairytale return for ex-Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen from Brentford
Eriksen would not just be a romantic signing, he would boost Spurs’ creativity and flair – and his contract expires this summer, so he’d be available on a free transfer, too…
A potentially more long-term shout would be Czech midfielder Antonin Barak, 27, who has scored an impressive 10 goals in 26 games for Serie A side Hellas Verona this season.
FORWARD – Nicolo Zaniolo, Marco Asensio
Spurs’ experiment on loanee Carlos Vinicius as a backup to Harry Kane didn’t quite work out, but with Son Heung-min and, at a push, Lucas Moura capable of playing as a central striker, the club may look to sign a winger rather than an out-and-out No 9.
As such, reported interest in Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo and Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio could come to fruition.
Zaniolo has been in fine form for Roma and would offer creativity, goals and versatility
Promising 22-year-old Zaniolo, 6’3″, has been in fine form for Jose Mourinho’s side this season and is considered one of Italy’s brightest prospects. He would offer creativity, goals and versatility.
Asensio is also potentially leaving Los Blancos, with Vinicius Jr locking down the left-wing position and youngster Rodrygo, midfielder Federico Valverde or Lucas Vazquez often preferred on the other side.
Whatever happens, you can expect a busy summer of ins and outs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.