Tottenham forced to pay £40m-plus for classy centre-back but Aston Villa, Wolves also in mix

Pau Torres, Bruno Fernandes Portugal v Spain

Villarreal are reportedly preparing themselves for the departure of key centre-back Pau Torres in the January transfer window, as Tottenham, Aston Villa and Wolves eye a deal for the Spain international.

The 25-year-old is in line to feature for his country in Qatar after being named in the Spanish squad, and he is sure to have scouts from several clubs monitoring how he copes in the showpiece tournament.

Torres has long been linked with a switch to the Premier League. Indeed, in the past Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs have all shown a firm interest in the Villarreal man.

And although United and the Reds are no longer in the running, Antonio Conte remains keen on a deal.

The Italian wants at least one new central defender in the January window and Torres fits the bill in terms of what he is looking for.

Torres is a strong defender but is also comfortable in possession and naturally plays on the left.

Lenglet loan likely to force new signing

Clement Lenglet was signed in the summer to fill that role but is only on loan from Barcelona and is not expected to sign on a permanent basis.

That leaves a hole in Conte’s side next summer, despite Ben Davies performing admirably when called upon.

At this stage, any sort of centre-back help will be welcomed in January though.

Tottenham have really struggled for clean sheets of late after looking sold at the start of the campaign. However, they’ve not been helped by their best defender Cristian Romero being hit by injury issues, while Eric Dier’s form has dropped significantly over the last month on so.

But Spurs are not the only interested suitor though, with Villa and Wolves also looking to strike a deal.

Emery wants familiar face at Villa

Villa recently appointed former Villarreal boss Unai Emery as their new manager and he knows Torres inside out. To that end, the midlands outfit are expected to be major suitors if Villarreal decide to cash in.

As for Wolves’ interest, their new coach Julen Lopetegui is also known to be a big admirer of Torres’ talents.

However, the Molineux outfit are almost certain to put their main focus on the other end of the pitch to solve their dismal goalscoring issues.

In terms of how much Torres will cost, his release clause currently sits at £55million.

However, 90mins reports that the Spanish side will likely accept a figure north of £40m in the new year.

There is also interest from PSG in the defender, having already scouted him. However, they are expected to try and land Tottenham targets Milan Skriniar or Alessandro Bastoni instead.

Much now depends on how Torres performs in Qatar, if he is given a chance. But with Tottenham offering Champions League football, they are sure to be the frontrunners for his signature.

READ MORE: Tottenham backed to sign £60m target for vastly-reduced fee as transfer twist alerts Conte