Tottenham make contact over high calibre free agent coup and trump card could spoil Prem rival’s plan

Netherlands centre-backs Matthijs de Ligt and Stefan de Vrij

Tottenham are one of two Premier League sides to take the first step towards signing Stefan De Vrij, though Spurs have an ace up their sleeve, per a report.

The Inter Milan centre-half, 30, remains a high level operator on both the domestic and international scenes. He earned a place in the Serie A team of the season in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 campaigns. He was also named best Serie A defender in the first season, much to Inter’s delight.

With the Netherlands, De Vrij’s caps tally now stands at 59. He’s made 16 appearances since the start of 2021, indicating he’s firmly entrenched in Louis van Gaal’s plans.

De Vrij is a certainty for the Dutch World Cup squad, though once the tournament in Qatar passes, his future at club level will quickly come into focus.

De Vrij has entered the final year of his contract at Inter. That means he’d be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs come January 1.

Interest in such a high calibre defender will be widespread, and according to Italian outlet Il Interista, two clubs have already opened dialogue.

It’s reported both Tottenham and Newcastle have ‘made contact’ with De Vrij’s camp.

The purpose was to test the waters and ascertain whether he’d be open to a move next summer.

Inter’s stance on De Vrij is they want a contract extension signed. Fellow centre-half Milan Skriniar is also out of contract next summer and losing both would constitute a disaster.

Conte connection could scupper Newcastle plan

Newcastle already have one Dutch international in their ranks – summer recruit Sven Botman.

La Gazzetta Dello Sport reported the Magpies plan to bring that Dutch connection to the north east and play them as a pairing. However, Tottenham could torpedo their hopes.

Il lnterista note Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is a ‘great admirer’ of De Vrij – who he managed at Inter.

Spurs reportedly hope De Vrij can be convinced to see out his deal at the San Siro and link back up with Conte at Spurs next summer.

Doing so would secure Tottenham a high level centre-half without having to pay a transfer fee.

Serie A deals serving Tottenham well

Given Spurs have two Italians – Fabio Paratici and Conte – in important positions, it’s no surprise they’ve plundered Serie A in the market.

Pierluigi Gollini, Destiny Udogie, Ivan Perisic, Cristian Romero, Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski have all arrived from Italian clubs.

Udogie is one for the future and has been loaned straight back to Udinese. As such, all bar Gollini have been roaring successes.

Tottenham have also drawn links with De Vrij’s Inter teammate, Alessandro Bastoni.

At 23, the Italy international would cost a sizeable fee, though does have the advantage of being left-footed. However, a move for Bastoni may have to go through the two Manchester clubs.

Clement Lenglet was signed on loan to compete with Ben Davies at left centre-back in Conte’s back three. However, the fact there’s no obligation to buy suggests an upgrade may be pursued next summer.

As a right-footer, De Vrij wouldn’t be the perfect replacement. Nonetheless, be a huge improvement on the likes of Davinson Sanchez and would compete with Romero and Eric Dier for the other two starting berths.