Inter Milan defender Stefan de Vrij has reacted to rumours that he could reunite with Antonio Conte at Tottenham.
Conte was appointed as the new boss at Spurs less than a fortnight ago but has already been linked with countless players, mainly defenders. A number of those links involve players from his old club Inter, with Holland centre-back De Vrij chief among them.
The 29-year-old played a key role as the Nerazzurri claimed their first Serie A title win in a decade under Conte last term. He featured 66 times in the league under the Italian in his favoured 3-5-2 formation.
Conte has since adopted that system in his two games in charge of Spurs. To that end, he is expected to bring in at least one new central defender in January – with some of his current Tottenham options not really being up to scratch.
However, it would appear that De Vrij may not be north London bound after all.
Ahead of Holland’s World Cup Qualifiers, de Vrij spoke to Sport Nieuws and was asked to either confirm or deny any links to Spurs.
“Deny! Because I don’t know anything about anything,” the Dutchman said.
“The connection was maybe made a bit quickly because the trainer I have worked with is now working there. But I don’t know anything. He (Conte) hasn’t approached me about it yet.”
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De Vrij would certainly be an upgrade up Tottenham’s current options, although Cristian Romero has shown glimpses of the form that saw him named Serie A Defender of the Year last term.
However, it looks like Conte and sporting director Fabio Paratici will have their work cut out to convince him to quit the San Siro.
West Ham back in race for Tottenham target
Meanwhile, West Ham are back in the race for a highly-rated star but could see their approach fall on deaf ears, according to reports.
The Irons need a new centre-back following an injury to Angelo Ogbonna. The Italian could miss up to nine months after damaging his ACL in the 3-2 victory over Liverpool.
That leaves David Moyes with just three first-team options – Kurt Zouma, Craig Dawson and Issa Diop.
West Ham were immediately linked with two Championship stars as potential solutions. Middlesbrough’s Dael Fry and QPR’s Rob Dickie are supposedly on their radar.
But reports now suggest that the east London club have returned for a top Serie A defender they pursued in the summer.
Sport Witness, citing reports in the Italian press, state that West Ham are back in for Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic ahead of January.
They were targeting his signature earlier this year but eventually brought in Kurt Zouma from Chelsea instead. Milenkovic remains highly thought of at the London Stadium.
Fiorentina ready to play hard ball
He has been affectionately labelled the ‘new Nemanja Vidic’ thanks to his no-nonsense defending. However, it may be tough for Moyes and co to prize him away from Italy.
The report claims that Fiorentina consider him to be ‘untransferable’. He is one of their best players and will be integral to them once again this campaign. A January exit would complicate their season and force manager Vincenzo Italiano to request an immediate replacement.
It looks like a winter move is off the cards, although Milenkovic could still find his way to England next summer. Tottenham are long-term admirers of the 24-year-old and could look to partner him with Cristian Romero in the future.
Reports in August revealed that Spurs director Fabio Paratici was willing to spend £15million on Milenkovic. That fee may rise if the Serbian continues his impressive form at the Artemio Franchi stadium.