Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Premier League duo join Tottenham in race for £34m-rated Jose Mourinho cast-off

Riccardo Calafiori is wanted by many Premier League sides

Riccardo Calafiori is wanted by many Premier League sides

Tottenham are reportedly facing extra competition to sign Bologna star Riccardo Calafiori – with two other Premier League sides joining the race to recruit the Italian.

Calafiori began his career at Roma, signing his first contract with them in mid-2018, aged 16. The centre-back’s career, however, was nearly ended before it had properly begun due to a serious knee injury a few months later.

Nearly two years later, the Rome-born player made his club debut in August 2020 and earned a handful of appearances under then-manager Paulo Fonseca and then Jose Mourinho.

While he later admitted Mourinho helped him develop as a player, the former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager was less than complimentary about him back in October 2021.

Following Roma’s loss to Juventus, a moaning Mourinho told reporters: “In Serie A, there are (substitute) benches and then there are (Juventus) benches.

“Today we played with this back four, where [Rick] Karsdorp was a doubt right up to the whistle. And the defenders I had on the bench were [Bryan] Reynolds, [Marash] Kumbulla and [Riccardo] Calafiori.”

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While Mourinho may have been right about Reynolds and Kumbulla, now 22-year-old Calafiori is, seemingly, proving ‘The Special One’ wrong.

After the left-footed defender left Roma for FC Basel in August 2022, he went from strength to strength in the Swiss Super League.

But it was only until he joined Bologna a year later – for a reported fee of £3.4m – and worked under the tutelage of Thiago Motta did he really start to get noticed.

Motta switched Calafiori to a centre-back role, after previously playing as a left-back or even a left-sided wing-back, and now he is seen as one of the most highly-rated defenders in Serie A.

His form this season earned him his first caps for Italy and now he is starting in Luciano Spalletti’s defence for the Euros – as they try to defend their 2021 crown in Germany.

While he did concede an unfortunate own goal in their 1-0 loss to Spain on Thursday night in a crunch clash in Group B, Calafiori’s star continues to rise.

Premier League sides vie for Calafiori

Previously, TEAMtalk reported Tottenham were keeping tabs on the 6ft 2in player, and new Liverpool boss Arne Slot is a reported admirer of the Italy international.

Now, Tutto Juve claims Newcastle United and Chelsea are now competing with one another to secure his signature this summer.

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Moreover, TuttoMercatoWeb claim Chelsea, Newcastle, and Tottenham have ‘made contact’ with Bologna this week and Real Madrid scouts have watched him at the Euros.

Reports in Italy suggest he could be made available for approximately £34m but the Serie A side are understood to be keen to retain his services.

Incidentally, Calafiori, whose contract with Bologna runs until 2027, has previously expressed his desire to move to the Premier League one day.

Calafiori ‘likes’ two English teams

While he is also open to returning to Roma, who are now managed by club legend Daniele De Rossi – two English clubs caught his fancy.

He told Italian publication Voce Giallorossa in December 2022: “I have two images: Going back to Italy, perhaps in Rome, or my dream would be to play in the Premier League. I really like West Ham or Chelsea.”

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Calafiori, who admitted in 2022 that Mourinho “forged his character and personality” despite offloading him to Basel, is likely to start in Italy’s final group stage game against Croatia on Monday night.

They currently sit second in their group, two points ahead of joint-bottom Albania and Croatia after two fixtures. As the tournament progresses, more eyes will surely follow the sought-after defender’s progress.

It may take a big offer to lure him away from Bologna, who are preparing to play in the Champions League next season.