Tottenham Hotspur tried to orchestrate a high-profile deal for Matthijs de Ligt before learning the defender would be beyond their means, a new report has revealed.
De Ligt recently left Juventus for a new experience in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich. Before he joined the German champions, though, he was the subject of several links with a Premier League transfer.
Chelsea were the main club to be linked from English shores, amid their need to replace Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. There were also rumours that Manchester City would have welcomed him to their squad.
But another candidate for his signature, who must have been working in the background if true, was Tottenham Hotspur.
According to Calciomercato, De Ligt was “the first name that everyone agreed” when Tottenham discussed their plans to find a new centre-back this summer.
The Italian outlet suggests that Tottenham “really tried” to sign De Ligt before Bayern won the battle. In fact, there was supposedly contact between Tottenham director of football Fabio Paratici and his former employers at Juventus.
Paratici knew De Ligt wanted a change of scenery and it was clear that he fit the bill of being an international-level defender like Antonio Conte wanted.
However, it was the costs of the operation that ruled Tottenham out. They would not have been willing to put together a package worth around €70m (£59.6m); it would have been a record signing for the club.
Consequently, they turned their attention elsewhere, bringing in Clement Lenglet on loan from Barcelona. Interestingly, Calciomercato do not rule out Tottenham making an additional centre-back signing.
But it can no longer be De Ligt as he prepares for his new adventure with Bayern, for whom he has already scored in pre-season.
Who could Tottenham target instead of De Ligt?
De Ligt would have been a huge coup for Tottenham ahead of their return to Champions League football.
But there could be more realistic options available on the market to compete with Lenglet, Cristian Romero, Eric Dier and others.
The addition of Lenglet, who is left-footed, has ticked a key box. It gives them some flexibility in terms of who to target next; now, they could look for either another left-footer or someone who favours their right side.
There is a feeling they will have to focus on player exits before making more signings. One man who could leave is defender Japhet Tanganga, whom AC Milan want. After that, the back three could remain somewhere to invest in.
It is hard to identify individual targets at present until the situation becomes clearer. It is unlikely to be someone as high-profile as De Ligt if Tottenham do get another defender.
But that’s not to say it won’t be a better deal, depending on the individual in question and their valuation.