Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag driving Man Utd chase for expensive Tottenham target who’s tipped to dominate

Barcelona winger Raphinha battling Inter Milan centre-back Alessandro Bastoni

Erik ten Hag is the driving force behind Man Utd hoping to sign an Inter Milan star Tottenham tried to land last summer, per reports.

Spurs bought early during the last window, landing the vast bulk of their stars in time to feature heavily in pre-season. That decision looked to have paid off with Tottenham starting the season brightly, though questions are beginning to be asked about their manager’s methods.

Antonio Conte deploys either a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation. Either set-up relies heavily on defensive rigidity and having capable centre-halves who are adept at covering large spaces when their wing-backs are caught up field.

The position of left centre-back was up for grabs over the summer with Tottenham ultimately settling on Clement Lenglet via the loan route.

But before the Frenchman arrived from Barcelona, Tottenham had been heavily linked with Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni.

The 23-year-old is going from strength to strength at the San Siro and Conte is fully aware of his talents.

Bastoni formed part of the back three that anchored Inter to Serie A glory in Conte’s final season at the helm. As a left-footer, he’s made the left-centre back position his own.

However, Inter proved difficult negotiators and Spurs eventually looked elsewhere when the finances of a deal began to rise. Figures upwards of £50m were touted at the time. Calciomercato later put an exact valuation on Bastoni – £53m.

Bastoni may yet come back into Tottenham’s sights given Lenglet’s deal is only a loan. However, according to the Spanish press, Man Utd could scupper any such plans.

Via the Manchester Evening News, it’s claimed Ten Hag is the main driver behind United’s new interest in Bastoni.

Bastoni’s current deal at Inter expires in 2024. A move in 2023 would make sense for the Italians if Bastoni makes it known he’ll not sign an extension.

Inter also have concerns over the futures of both Stefan De Vrij and Milan Skriniar. However, given his age, Bastoni is the player Inter would be able to generate the biggest fee for.

Gazzetta dello Sport recently put both Manchester clubs in the frame following an incident that threw Bastoni’s future in Italy into doubt. That particular outlet also claimed Spurs won’t go down without a fight.

Where would Bastoni fit in?

Ten Hag has already signed a left-sided centre-half since taking the reins.

Lisandro Martinez arrived from Ajax for a fee not too dissimilar to the one Bastoni will command.

Martinez has already struck up a promising early partnership with Raphael Varane and one pundit believes the pair form part of a formidable foursome that can anchor United to success.

However, the long-term futures of both Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof remain uncertain.

Maguire is now 29 and his struggles on the pitch are well documented. Even if he wasn’t currently sidelined through injury, he would be behind Martinez and Varane in the pecking order.

Lindelof, meanwhile, reckons Ten Hag’s arrival will bring out his best. However, the Swede is a clear fourth choice at present and a signing the calibre of Bastoni would represent a sizeable upgrade.

Indeed, Bastoni earned a place in the Serie A team of the year during the 2020-21 campaign.

He’s continued to progress since then and the original Spanish report tip him to be ‘one of the most dominant defenders in the next decade’.

READ MORE: Ten Hag reveals what’s next for Ronaldo after Man Utd striker goes rogue – ‘This is the second time, there are consequences’