Tottenham have reportedly made an initial loan offer to bring in a Serie A star who could fix a major problem in Antonio Conte’s side in the January transfer window.
The Italian admitted after Sunday’s damaging home defeat to Aston Villa that he was crying out for some creativity in his side, as they struggled to break down the visitors and were then hit by two sucker punches.
A number have names have been mooted as potential arrivals, including the likes of James Maddison, Alexis Mac Allister and former starlet Marcus Edwards.
However, it appears that the most likely addition is highly-rated Atalanta midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi.
The Ukraine international has been tipped to join Spurs since last summer. And those rumours have stepped up a notch ahead of the January window opening.
CalcioMercato revealed recently that the Serie A side have taken up the option to extend the 29-year-old’s contract, which was initially set to run out next summer.
However, that report added that Malinovskyi still dreams of a move to Tottenham after missing out in the summer.
Spurs ramped up their pursuit of the player after learning of West Ham’s interest. And now Corriere della Sera claims they have taken their interest one step further.
They report states that sporting director Fabio Paratici has launched a loan bid with an option to buy the playmaker. That option would come into place if certain conditions are met.
Atalanta favour permanent Malinovskyi deal
For their part, Atalanta are said to favour a permanent sale rather than a loan option.
Indeed, they fear that Malinovskyi will be a bit-part player in north London once the likes of Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison return from injury.
That could then mean that any conditional agreement based on the number of appearances is unlikely to be met.
However, as with any creative midfield players linked with Tottenham, the main issue remains how they fit into Conte’s system.
The Italian sticks to his favoured 3-4-3 formation for virtually every game. To that end, there is no room for a traditional No.10 in that set-up.
Conte prefers to play with two holding midfielders, normally Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur. So unless he actually changes his thinking, adding a creative attacking midfielder to his squad almost seems pointless.
After all, there is a reason why the forward-thinking Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso were loaned out. Neither player fitted into the system that Conte prefers to play.
All that could change though if Conte is no longer in charge of the club.
The former Inter Milan chief hinted that he may have to move on if he does not accept the “big challenge” of their project.
Indeed, Spurs and Conte are at somewhat of an impasse at the moment, with the Italian so far refusing to sign a new deal when his current one runs out this summer over a lack of investment in his squad. Tottenham, meanwhile, want Conte to commit before they take the plunge and back him in the market.