French publication L’Equipe are reporting that three of the Premier League’s biggest guns are limbering up for a triple threat tussle over Monaco’s Portuguese schemer Joao Moutinho.
Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are the trio in question, all looking to capitalise on the 28-year-old’s alleged dissatisfaction with life at the Ligue 1 club.
The pursuit is shaping up to be a hot one and it has prompted the bwin odds gurus to go as short as 6/4 about the former Sporting Lisbon man plying his trade in England’s top tier by September 2nd 2015, but which of the three is most likely to snare Moutinho?
Both Arsenal and Liverpool have enormous defensive concerns to address before they go out and buy another playmaking midfielder.
An orchestrator, however, is exactly what Spurs require and they should be pooling all of their negotiating resources to ensure he’s signed in January.
Not since Luka Modric have the Lilywhites had a world-class string-pulling central midfielder in their ranks.
The last full season the Croatian conjurer was on board, 2011/12, Tottenham finished fourth, missing out on the Champions League on account of Chelsea winning the competition.
In the campaign prior to his £33m switch to Real Madrid, Modric assisted four goals and averaged 2.6 key passes per outing as the club notched 66 goals – a tally they’ve since been unable to best.
Arguably the only player cast in a similar mould to have arrived at White Hart Lane since his departure is Christian Eriksen, though he tends to be deployed in a wide berth as opposed to an integral position in the centre where he can affect play in the same way as the Croat did.
Of all the proven players available to Spurs, Moutinho, who they have tried to sign on multiple occasions in the past, or perhaps Paris Saint-Germain’s Yohan Cabaye are the only two who could be trusted to perform in this role as admirably.
The Portuguese tends to play in more of an advanced role for Monaco, but there’s a growing trend amongst the elite clubs of recalibrating such individuals in order to dictate play from deeper positions.
Toni Kroos is an example at Real Madrid, having typically played in a number ten capacity at Bayern Munchen, while Barcelona task Ivan Rakitic to carry out similar duties.
The penetrative passes this pair feeds from deep are key to the attacking success both teams savour and such an ingredient is certainly absent at Spurs.