Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have both been credited with an interest in a striker who is being tipped to follow the rise to stardom of Erling Haaland.
The Borussia Dortmund frontman is one of the most in-demand players in world football and will be out of reach financially for the two London rivals. However, with both clubs looking to the future, another player has appeared on their radar who could follow in his footsteps.
Roko Simic joined Haaland’s former club RB Salzburg from Lokomotiva Zagreb in July. He was soon loaned to FC Liefering, a feeder team for Salzburg who play in the Austrian second division.
Simic has adapted quickly and has six goals from his first nine Liefering appearances. It seems he will have a bright future with Salzburg, who have him under contract until 2025.
But Jeunes Footeux are predicting even bigger things for the young forward, whom they describe as “the new” Haaland.
They report of interest from five clubs in the Milan-born striker, who is the son of ex-Croatia international Dario Simic. Tottenham and West Ham are among the group “closely following” his development.
There is also interest from Real Madrid, Monaco and Salzburg’s sister club RB Leipzig.
Standing at 1.9m tall, Simic is already a big physical prospect at the age of 18. His technical ability is clearly not lacking either given his goal rate.
While he has a long way to go to reach Haaland’s levels, several clubs are aware of his “huge potential”. Therefore, they would be willing to move for him before his price escalates too far.
Tottenham could do with another centre-forward regardless of the ongoing uncertainty about Harry Kane’s future. The England captain committed himself to the club in the summer, but didn’t specify whether he could leave in January or not.
Either way, there is no natural centre-forward elsewhere in the squad to back him up, after Spurs opted not to sign loanee Carlos Vinicius permanently in the summer.
West Ham’s need for a new striker is also well documented. They sold Sebastien Haller to Ajax in January, but vowed to be patient in bringing in extra depth behind Michail Antonio.
If playing the long game leads them to Simic and he progresses as hoped, the strategy could pay off. But it is clearly a crowded race for his signature.
Salzburg will surely have their own plans for Simic, who is yet to feature for their first team but does have two goals in two games for their under-19s in the UEFA Youth League.
However, if he does have similar potential to Haaland, then they may struggle to keep him around for too long – and the Premier League could come calling.
Spurs, West Ham in another transfer battle
At the other end of the pitch, TEAMtalk recently revealed that Tottenham and West Ham both share an interest in a promising goalkeeper.
They are each looking at England under-21 keeper Etienne Green, with the idea of bringing him to play club football in his homeland for the first time.
Green currently represents a club with whom he shares a similarity in name, Saint-Etienne. He has become their first choice and earned a recent reward of a long-term contract.
But clubs back in England are keeping tabs on his potential as he continues to progress in France, where he has lived since the age of four.
He recently switched international allegiance back to his country of birth, though. Next, moving there at club level could be in his sights.
Tottenham and West Ham could bid for Green in the summer of 2022. He is unlikely to come cheap, but could be useful for either in the long term.
Spurs captain and number one Hugo Lloris is in his mid-thirties and West Ham also have an ageing goalkeeping department.
It seems the two London outfits are aiming to strengthen at both ends of the pitch – and have similar ideas in how to do so.