Antonio Conte claims he is counting on Steven Bergwijn and will give him a platform as long as he is fit, despite reports of Tottenham receiving an offer for the winger.
Bergiwjn joined Tottenham in January 2020 but despite a few bright moments has struggled to build consistency. He has scored just five times from 64 appearances for the club. And there have been doubts over his future ever since Conte took charge.
The situation has intensified in recent days, with rumours of a return to his native Netherlands growing. Ajax appear to be strong suitors for the former PSV winger.
In fact, there were reports earlier that Ajax have made a first bid for Bergwijn. Tottenham turned it down because it was not high enough.
They may yet be open to doing business at a higher price. But Conte’s comments now suggest Bergwijn can have a Spurs future if he fights for it.
Conte told a press conference (via the BBC): “He knows very well what I think about him. I can consider him a player who can play in a few roles as a nine or a 10.
“He was injured at Tottenham for a long time. When he is in a good physical condition, I give him a chance to show he is a good player.
“He is a Tottenham player and close to coming back. I count on him. He is a player with different characteristics to Sonny [Heung-min], Lucas [Moura] and Harry [Kane]. He is a creative player and very good on one-on-one.”
But Conte was much more coy on the future of another player with doubts on his Spurs situation.
Tanguy Ndombele is in focus again after being booed off during his most recent Tottenham appearance. It now seems prudent for the club to find him a new home.
Asked about Ndombele’s future, though, Conte replied: “Honestly, I think it’s not right to speak about this type of situation.
“I think everyone is the owner of his gestures, you understand? I don’t like to speak about a player who is not in front of me, I do it in a private way. It’s not right.”
Conte addresses potential plans for signings
The attention could soon turn to potential signings. Indeed, Conte has proven to be a demanding presence in the transfer market wherever he has gone.
But once again, he wouldn’t divulge too much in public about where he wants to strengthen.
He said: “What I want, I spoke with the club. I have my thoughts on the situation. The club has to decide the best way to go.
“I don’t have expectations. I am coach and know that we have to solve many problems.
“For me, in this moment, the best possible way is to try to get the best out of my players. This is the only way I can to try to improve the situation and the squad.
“We have spoken about the situation; it was a good meeting. The owner and [Fabio] Paratici, they started together at the start of this season and I arrived in the middle of the season. For sure they know the situation much better than me.
“It was a good meeting to speak and to tell them my thoughts about the two months I have spent at Tottenham. I can give a lot of work to the club. Then the decision’s for the club and not for me. The last word is always for the club.”
For now, Conte must work with what he already has at Tottenham. But he does not have a full complement of players at present.
He confirmed that Son Heung-min will be out until after the break to the start of February with a muscle problem. Meanwhile, defender Cristian Romero is “very close” to making a return after a two-month setback.