Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Tottenham plot head-scratching raid for familiar midfielder with secret weapon to swing transfer Conte’s way

Tottenham forward Son Heung-min and Sporting Lisbon midfielder Manuel Ugarte

Tottenham hope to catch a glimpse of a midfield target in the World Cup clash between Portugal and Uruguay on Monday, and Spurs have a secret weapon that can swing a transfer their way, per a report.

While Spurs do currently reside inside the Premier League’s top four, it’s fair to say their season has been anything but smooth sailing.

Tottenham have developed a nagging habit of falling behind. Antonio Conte’s side are regularly able to fight back in the second half, but it’s a trait they’d rather not have to showcase each and every week.

Conte operates primarily with a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation. The Italian doesn’t lack for midfield options and has an abundance of stellar choices to pick from including Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma.

However, all three are defensive-minded and have contributed to Spurs having a one-paced feel in attack.

As such, a creative or box-to-box midfielder is believed to be on their agenda. James Maddison ticks the former box and his outstanding form could earn him a move to a ‘big seven’ club next summer.

Juventus’ West McKennie is a primary example of a box-to-box player and Calciomercato reported they have an ‘obsession’ with the American.

Juventus are open to cashing in on McKennie in 2023 and either he or a player of Maddison’s ilk would add a new dimension to Conte’s midfield.

Tottenham looking for more of the same?

So it comes as something of a surprise to see Spurs again heavily linked by the Portuguese press with another defensive midfielder in the form of Manuel Ugarte. GiveMeSport’s Pete O’Rourke claimed Spurs will be actively monitoring Ugarte just a few days ago.

The 21-year-old is a familiar face to Spurs fans having lined up against them twice for Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League this season.

Ugarte played 90 minutes in both clashes and his performances at club level earned him a place in Uruguay’s squad for the World Cup.

While he didn’t feature in matchday one against South Korea, Portuguese outlet O Jogo report Tottenham are hopeful of seeing him handle the might of Portugal on Monday night.

Uruguay face Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Bernardo Silva and co. and if Ugarte does start, he’ll be given a thorough examination.

One reason he might not start is the presence of current Tottenham star, Bentancur. Bentancur started Uruguay’s first match in a midfield three alongside Fede Valverde and Matias Vecino.

However, per O Jogo, Bentancur may wind up aiding Spurs’ transfer chances.

Agent Bentancur can increase Ugarte transfer chances

It’s claimed he’s close with fellow countryman Ugarte and Conte will be banking on a good word or two to swing a deal in his direction.

Fellow Portuguese publication, Record, recently claimed Ugarte has a £53m release clause in his contract. Sporting hope to see that figure raised to nearer the £70m mark if fresh terms are penned, though a deal could be made for far less than either of those amounts.

While Ugarte would appear to represent a sound long-term addition on paper, another defensive midfielder is not what Conte needs.

Unless Sporting can be convinced to sell on the cheap, Spurs would be better suited spending their money on someone who’ll bring something different to the midfield, not more of the same.

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