Monumental blow for Conte as Barcelona outcast rejects Tottenham for second time and outlines preferred next move
Tottenham Hotspur have reportedly had an offer for FC Barcelona midfielder Franck Kessie rejected, with the former AC Milan player not keen on moving to North London.
Antonio Conte had made Kessie one of his top targets this winter after the 26-year-old has found regular minutes hard to come by at the Camp Nou.
The news will come as a disappointment to Spurs fans who have been crying out for a new midfielder, as it now looks like Kessie will make a return to Italy instead. It is the second time Kessie has snubbed overtures from Spurs. Indeed, he was on Conte’s list of targets last year when it became apparent he was likely to leave Milan.
Conte has so far been relying on the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Yves Bissouma, Pape Matar Sarr and Oliver Skipp in midfield, with Sarr and Skipp perhaps not yet at the level the Italian coach demands of his players.
Tottenham currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League table, five points behind Manchester United, despite playing an extra game.
If they want to break into the top four, they could do with making some effective additions this winter and Kessie seemed like a solid option.
As reported by TEAMtalk, Spurs tabled a £13m offer for the Barcelona outcast, but the Spanish club and the player have since rejected their approach, with the Ivorian preferring a move back to Serie A.
According to TuttoMercatoWeb, his former rivals Inter Milan are now the current favourites for Kessie’s signature.
Tottenham must look elsewhere as under pressure Conte eyes January targets
This news comes as a blow to Conte, who is under increasing pressure after Spurs have endured a poor run of results.
In particular, the manager came under a lot of scrutiny for his team selection against Arsenal on Saturday, when Tottenham were beaten 2-0 in a crucial North London derby.
But this wasn’t his first costly defeat. They also lost 2-0 at home to Aston Villa at the beginning of January and have dropped points against Newcastle, Manchester United and Liverpool, all of whom are battling to get into the top four.
Conte has been open about the fact that he doesn’t believe his current squad is good enough to challenge for trophies and with that in mind, has been eyeing several new signings this month.
For instance, Tottenham have reportedly joined the race for Villarreal attacker Arnaut Danjuma, who looks set to move to the Premier League after enquiries from Everton and Bournemouth.
Spurs have also made signing a new right-back a priority, with Sporting Lisbon’s Pedro Porro top of Conte’s shortlist.
However, with the need for reinforcements in the middle of the park clear, Conte will now have to look elsewhere for a new central midfielder after missing out on Kessie.
Indeed, it could be an important two weeks for Tottenham, because as we approach the end of the current window, they clearly haven’t yet made the signings required to challenge for the Champions League next season.
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