Only a few short months ago, Antonio Conte rejected the chance to become the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur.
Unable to convince the former Inter Milan boss to make the move to north London at the time, Spurs instead installed Nuno Espirito Santo as their head coach.
That ill-fated relationship latest just four months as the Portuguese was axed by Tottenham on Monday morning.
Conte is now on the verge of replacing him at Spurs, but the 52-year-old Italian will have no doubt have required some serious assurances that he will be allowed to strengthen the Tottenham squad in January before agreeing in principle to take up the role.
While a salary believed to be worth more than £13 million annually is bound to have swayed him, Conte will be under no illusions about the rebuilding job that he faces at Spurs.
No stranger to arresting a slump, Conte needs to restore confidence to a Tottenham side that has been in woeful form of late. While there is plenty of quality already present in the Spurs dressing room, reinforcements are sure to be needed if the club’s season is to be salvaged.
With that in mind, it appears that Conte has already identified six targets that he would like to bring in at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – all from Serie A.
Having won the competition with Inter Milan last season, Conte has an in-depth knowledge of the Italian top-flight – and is already being seemingly plotting to swoop for several of its highly-rated talents.
Per a report from SportsMediaset (via The Mirror), the first name on Conte’s wish-list is in-form Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic. The 21-year-old has been in outrageous touch this calendar year – becoming one of only three players so far in 2021 to score 25 league goals.
Based on his numbers, Vlahovic could be an ideal successor to Harry Kane, who Spurs are believed to be ready to cash in on soon.
Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic is another player said to be on Conte’s radar. The Croatian is out of contract at the San Siro next year – and a reunion with his former manager could be on the cards. A straight swap for Spurs’ Tanguy Ndombele is one possible way that a deal could happen this year.
Another Milan-based midfielder that Conte is thought to have an interest in is Franck Kessie. The Ivorian currently plays for AC Milan, but has admirers around Europe. Tottenham met with Kessie’s representatives earlier this year over a move – and securing Conte as manager could be what it takes for them to land the 24-year-old.
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It’s no secret that Conte is fond of playing with wing-backs, making Lazio’s Manuel Lazzari far from a surprising target. Comfortable anywhere on the right flank, the 27-year-old Italian ticks all the usual boxes for the incoming Spurs boss.
Part of Nuno’s downfall at Tottenham was their awful defensive record under his stewardship. Conte could well raid his former club Inter to recruit centre-backs Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni, both of whom have served him so well in the past.
If Conte has his way, the Spurs squad might soon feature more than a few familiar faces from Serie A.
Tottenham sign Antonio Conte (The Football Terrace)