Ange Postecoglou has confirmed that Spurs will look to sign a centre-back in January, as the Australian looks to add to his depleted defence.
Micky Van de Ven is not expected to be fit until the New Year due to a hamstring problem, while Ashley Phillips (ankle) and Eric Dier (groin) are also out. Ben Davies has deputised in central defence in recent weeks, but Spurs are keen to add another recognised option at centre-back.
We’ve looked at five potential transfer targets for the North Londoners.
Five centre-backs Spurs could target in January:
Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)
Marc Guehi’s maturing performances at Crystal Palace have placed the centre-back on the shortlist of several leading Premier League clubs, with the defender having established himself as an England international since moving to Selhurst Park.
A product of the Chelsea academy, Guehi signed for Palace in an £18m deal in 2021 and has grown in stature amid regular first-team football with the Eagles. Named as vice-captain by Roy Hodgson, the 23-year-old has won the trust of both club and country, earning nine caps for England since his debut in March 2022. Arguably the first-choice option behind John Stones and Harry Maguire, despite missing selection for the World Cup last winter, he looks set for a place in the squad for the European Championship next summer.
Casually playing out from the back.
Ft. Marc Guéhi 😍 pic.twitter.com/eNWkKMuOOG
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) October 10, 2023
Palace would be reluctant to lose Guehi, whose partnership with Joachim Andersen is the foundation on which their side is built. The former ranks eighth in the Premier League for clearances (68) so far this season. Chelsea are understood to hold an option to match any bid for the centre-back.
Lloyd Kelly (Bournemouth)
Lloyd Kelly’s contract situation has alerted a number of top clubs, with the Bournemouth defender’s deal set to expire at the end of the season.
The 25-year-old – who is currently sidelined through injury – has failed to agree terms on a new deal with the Cherries, despite the reported offer of a club-record proposal.
“We want to keep him,” Bournemouth chairman Bill Foley told BBC Radio Solent. “We are talking to his agent. He is an integral part of our team and we like him. He is very versatile, but players have different views and we have to respect that.
Asked if any of the squad could be sold this winter, Foley added: “The door is closed. And bolted shut.”
Kelly’s versatility in being able to feature in central defence or at left-back adds to his appeal for Spurs. However, Liverpool, Newcastle and AC Milan have also been credited with interest.
Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham)
Spurs were linked with a move to sign Tosin Adarabioyo last summer, with reports of a potential swap-deal involving Eric Dier late in the window. No deal materialised, but the North Londoners could launch another attempted raid on the cross-capital rivals.
Adarabioyo’s current contract expires at the end of the season and Spurs could look to sign the defender in a cut-price deal. The Manchester City academy graduate is an imposing physical presence and ranks in the 99th percentile of defenders in Europe’s top five leagues for clearances (6.64 per game) across the last 12 months.
Tosin Adarabioyo’s game by numbers vs. West Ham:
97 passes completed
90% pass accuracy
4/5 aerial duels won
4 long balls completed
Massive. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/zSLNfoYWmK
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 10, 2023
The 26-year-old has also averaged 3.03 aerials won (88th percentile) and 4.87 progressive passes (84th percentile) across the same period. Adarabioyo’s recent return from injury has coincided with Fulham’s upturn in form. The Cottagers have won back-to-back games, each with clean sheets, since his return to the starting side.
Goncalo Inacio (Sporting Lisbon)
Goncalo Inacio is the latest name of the Sporting Lisbon production line of academy talent, turning the heads of recruiters across Europe.
The left-sided centre-back broke into the team during the club’s title-winning campaign in 2020/21 and has since cemented a reputation as one of the Primeira Liga’s best defenders.
So far this season, the 22-year-old leads Portugal’s top flight for touches, progressive carrying distance and passes into the final third, while he ranks fourth for progressive passes and fifth for progressive passing distance. Inacio’s comfortability in progressing the ball through ball-carry or incisive passing appears an ideal fit for Postecoglou’s tactical plan.
Of defenders outside Europe’s top five leagues, he ranks in the 93rd percentile or higher for assists, shot-creating actions, progressive passes, progressive carries, attempted passes and successful take-ons.
The five-cap Portugal international signed a new deal with Sporting in August, which increased his release clause to a fee of €60m (£51.5m).
Jean-Clair Todibo (Nice)
England’s elite clubs have sent scouts to watch Jean-Clair Todibo on a regular basis across the last 18 months, following the defender’s development at Nice.
After failing to make the grade during a two-season spell at Barcelona earlier in his career, the 23-year-old has evolved into one of Ligue 1’s leading defenders since returning to France.
Todibo made his senior debut for France in September and will be hoping to earn a place in the squad for next summer’s European Championship, despite significant competition at centre-back that includes Jules Koundé, Dayot Upamecano, William Saliba and Ibrahima Konate, among others.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 8, 2023
Todibo ranks in the 94th percentile of defenders in Europe’s top five league for successful take-ons (0.64) and tackles (2.38) per game, while an average of 77.9 attempted passes per 90 – at a completion rate of 89.8% – also rank him in the elite bracket.