Christian Benteke may be on Tottenham Hotspur's wishlist, but would Aston Villa even consider selling him?
Gossip hounds are straining at the leash ahead of the summer transfer window opening. Not for them the mere trivialities of the current season actually finishing, they are just as interested (if not more so) in who their club might be buying.
OK, an exaggeration perhaps. But for football fans, their respective clubs' futures are naturally important to them, and they want to know the men wearing their colors are of the highest possible quality.
Tottenham Hotspur are one of several Premier League clubs set to be active at the higher end of the market. Establishing the validity of rumors of their reported targets is never easy; nonetheless, we take a look at some of the latest.
Aston Villa's season may have been a lot worse than it has been without Christian Benteke. Fourteen Premier League goals have contributed to giving Paul Lambert's side a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. Unsurprisingly, the Villa boss has made it clear he has no intention of selling Benteke.
Sticking to his word might prove challenging for Lambert if they go down. If they stay up, you would probably believe the Scotsman.
The club cannot afford to let go one of its best players in the middle of a key rebuilding phase. Even with such an impressive debut season in England under his belt, the 22-year-old is probably better off staying where he is rather than moving again while still in the process of establishing himself as a player.
Tottenham have been linked with Benteke several times in the last few months (as recently as last week in a Daily Mail story). A striker is certainly a priority for Andre Villas-Boas, and the powerful and increasingly deadly Belgian would seem a smart acquisition on their part.
Summer 2013 might prove too early for a deal to come together, if it does at all.
Samuel Umtiti made a startling first impression for most Tottenham fans with his rocket of a goal in the Europa League earlier this season. Could he be a regular fixture at White Hart Lane next season?
Villas-Boas is likely to be on the lookout for a new signing in the position, seemingly having not quite clicked with Benoit Assou-Ekotto on a football level. Umtiti is highly regarded, and any move for him would have to weigh up his inexperience against his potential upside.
Spurs have had the benefit of seeing him up close too. However with Lyon close to securing a return to the Champions League, coach Remi Garde will probably not want to lose such an asset. Even if they were handsomely compensated.
So at the risk of retreading the same path, Eriksen seems like one of the strongest possibilities for a transfer of the players linked with Spurs so far this spring.
The Danish international might be looking for a move to a bigger stage, and especially if they qualify for the Champions League, Tottenham would provide that. There is a strong argument to be made a creative talent of his ilk is needed by the North London club too, so it seems a sensible match.
That Tottenham dealt with Ajax last year in signing Jan Vertonghen might help in fashioning a deal (as might the Belgian's recommendation), though there is almost certain to be interest from elsewhere in Eriksen.
Feyenoord midfielder Jordy Clasie was touted as a potential signing for Tottenham last year and has again been linked with them in recent days. This time though, the Daily Mail has them competing with Fiorentina for the 21-year-old.
It is hard to get a handle on whether Spurs are genuinely after Clasie, or if it is just an assumption being made now on the back of the interest from the Viola.
Midfield will be an area Villas-Boas will be looking to strengthen. Clasie, already a Netherlands international, is tenacious with a good eye for a pass—an intriguing prospect for sure.
Until there is a better idea of what the Portuguese manager has in mind for the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll, though, giving credence to a story about signing another midfielder is difficult.