It’s the nature of the summer transfer window that the club will be linked with dozens of players over the space of a few months. 99% of them will turn out to be untrue, and for the most part, it’s difficult to tell who is a genuine target or who is not.
This weekend, we were linked with three different midfielders, in three different countries. There isn’t anything unusual in that per se but it’s telling that all of them play the same role in the team.
We are looking to find the right replacement for Mousa Dembele with it seeming likely that the Belgian will depart this summer. There are undoubted difficulties in replacing such a unique talent. From the looks of it, scouts are looking at players with differing styles to replace our no.19. So who are the latest targets?
Radio Mitre in Argentina and Antena 2 in Colombia (via Sport Witness) believe we are close to signing the Colombian international. The Independent believe there is genuine interest there but they don’t go as far as saying we’ve made a bid.
Barrios is a genuine midfield destroyer. A Kante style player, he would be very different to Dembele which makes me suspect that he would be coming in to compete with Dier and Wanyama rather than to take up Mousa’s role.
No doubt, Mauricio Pochettino would have had a hand in our pursuit of the Colombian due to the fact he plays his club football for Boca Juniors in Argentina. I will be an interested observer when Colombia face Japan tomorrow.
L’Equipe say we are in negotiations to sign the 21-year-old. He is younger than Barrios, but he already has experience of European football with Lyon in the Europa League last season. He also plays further forward than the Colombian, and would likely offer a greater threat going forward.
Like Dembele, he loves to dribble and make forward runs. He was also pretty productive in the final third last campaign with one goal and eight assists in all competitions.
Tuttosport believe we are the main suitors for the Inter Milan midfielder. You can see why, his best attributes are breaking up play, holding onto the ball and making forward runs which would tally with our no.19’s main strengths.
The fact that the Nerazzurri are willing to let the Uruguayan go after spending €24m on him last summer, however, suggests a player who is not suited for the top level. Of course, Inter do have a habit of selling players who go on to better things, but at 26 years of age, Vecino should be in his prime. Nothing suggests to me he could make it in the Premier League.
Nobody said it would be easy replacing Mousa, but it does seem from the outside looking in that we are having to trawl the length and breadth of the footballing world in order to find even someone close to what the 30-year-old offers us. Hopefully, by the start of August, we have settled on one suitable replacement.