Tottenham are expected to prioritise a centre-back and two wing-backs in the transfer market this summer, with a new-look squad being built to Antonio Conte’s trademark blueprints.
Conte is known for his dedication to a 3-4-3 system that utilises three centre-backs with a wing-back on either flank. It was the formation that underpinned Chelsea’s 2016/17 Premier League title under his guidance, while a slightly different but largely similar system delivered success at Inter.
The Italian has already been handed January signings to strengthen what was previously a disappointingly weak Spurs squad, with Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski both arriving from Juventus. The latter, who is initially on loan until 2023, has found his feet in an effective attacking partnership trident with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
But the defensive structures still need work to make it a proper Conte team.
The Athletic explains that the ‘first priority’ is a centre-back to play on the left of a three. That would be someone to be an upgrade on the long-serving Ben Davies, starting alongside Eric Dier and Cristian Romero in the other roles.
Davinson Sanchez and Joe Rodon are the other centre-backs in the current squad. Sanchez was dropped by Conte in February after a string of poor performances, while Rodon hasn’t played a single minute of Premier League football since Nuno Espirito Santo was still in charge and has been an unused substitute in 16 consecutive league games since December.
Wing-backs are crucial to Conte’s tactics and neither Matt Doherty on the right, nor Ryan Sessegnon or Sergio Reguilon on the left appear to be the ideal long-term solutions.
Spurs may also have little choice but to dip into the transfer market for a striker. As a bare minimum, the squad needs a back-up to Harry Kane, who remains the only specialised ‘number nine’. But Kane has also been linked with a move again after his future was up in the air for the whole of last summer.
Manchester United have Kane on their transfer radar and it is thought that agent Jorge Mendes is even on the lookout for potential replacements he could take to north London – that has included initial talks over Roma’s Tammy Abraham and Benfica’s Darwin Nunez.