Tottenham eye cut-price alternative to key Mourinho target

Saints defender Jannik Vestergaard in action

The Express has reported that Tottenham have stepped up their interest in Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard as the summer transfer window approaches.

What is the latest transfer news involving Vestergaard?

Jose Mourinho is a long-term admirer of Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skriniar. However, Spurs are concerned that Inter will want to keep the £25m-rated player, which could make tempting him over to north London a difficult task.

They are willing to go back in for Skriniar, but the club have identified Vestergaard as a potential alternative.

How much is Vestergaard worth and when does his contract expire?

It is understood that Vestergaard would cost Spurs £18m this summer.

The 28-year-old has just a year left on his contract, meaning that the upcoming transfer window could represent the final chance for Southampton to get a reasonable fee for him.

What are Vestergaard’s stats this season?

The Saints have experienced a rollercoaster campaign in 2020/21. Having briefly gone top of the league in November, they now find themselves down in 13th place.

Despite this, Vestergaard has been one of their more consistent players. WhoScored have given him an average game rating of 7.09, second only to James Ward-Prowse (7.10). This score sees him ranked above Tottenham’s best performing centre-back, Toby Alderweireld (6.92).

Standing at 6 foot 6, it is no surprise that Vestergaard is extremely effective in the air. He has won 3.6 aerial duels per game in the Premier League – once more this is ahead of Spurs’ best player in this category, Eric Dier (3).

What has Hasenhuttl said about Vestergaard?

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has been delighted by Vestergaard’s progress, particularly after the team’s humbling 9-0 defeat to Leicester in 2019. 

Speaking to Hampshire Live about the giant Dane last October after a 2-0 win against Everton, Hasenhuttl said: “He is a role model for never giving up and for developing your game.

“I am very happy to see a performance like this at the moment. It shows more and more the qualities we need at the moment.

“He is very calm and has good decision making and is definitely getting better and better.”

Is Levy up to his old tricks again?

Tottenham went two transfer windows without signing anyone in the 2018/19 season, and they have been paying the price ever since. Having established themselves as regulars in the top four under Mauricio Pochettino, they finished only sixth last year, and may miss out on Champions League football again this time around.

Still, chairman Daniel Levy does not seem to have learned his lesson with the report on Vestegaard suggesting Spurs are already looking at underwhelming options.

Spurs should be going all-out for Skriniar. At 26, he is in his prime, has been a mainstay in Inter’s defence this season, and looks set to win Serie A with the club next month with the team 11 points clear of their nearest rivals in the table.

Antonio Conte’s side have conceded just four goals in their last 12 league matches, with Skriniar featuring in all of those games. Of course, Inter may well want to keep hold of him, but with only two years remaining on his current contract, the right amount of money would surely get a deal over the line – especially bearing in mind Inter’s financial crisis.

Instead, Tottenham are eyeing an alternative in Vestergaard, who turns 29 in August and plays for a bottom-half Premier League side. Unsurprisingly, he is also a cheaper option than Skriniar.

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Who is this former Spurs man?

Groundhog day for Mourinho?

History may be about to repeat itself for Jose Mourinho. In his last transfer window as Manchester United manager, the Portuguese manager wanted to bring in Harry Maguire to strengthen his side’s defence. Ed Woodward seemingly vetoed the move and a matter of months later, he was sacked in the wake of poor results.

Now at Spurs, the 58-year-old has made signing a centre-back his priority. He has tried a number of different defensive combinations this year, but does not appear to have been convinced by any of them.

He clearly needs a top-level defender to come in and make this Spurs side a more traditional Mourinho team – they’ve conceded 32 goals already this season – yet it seems the Portuguese may end up having to settle for Vestegaard. 

With pressure mounting on him, Mourinho can’t afford more underwhelming defensive performances at the beginning of next season. That gap in quality between Skriniar and Vestegaard may well result in him paying the ultimate price by losing his job.

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