Manchester United reportedly want to sign Tottenham Hotspur's dynamic double act of striker Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli. The Red Devils have apparently scouted the pair heavily but will find Spurs unwilling to do a deal.
Writing for the Daily Star, Paul Hetherington said United won't be put off by the north London club's reluctance. He also details the extent of the Reds' interest: "United have had scouts at Tottenham’s last FOUR matches as they build dossiers on England gems Harry Kane and Dele Alli. But the White Hart Lane outfit are privately adamant they WILL NOT sell their starlets."
But United won't be deterred, nor by Kane and Alli also being tied to long-term contracts, something Hetherington referred to as a potential "stumbling block." He also cited the belief at White Hart Lane that Spurs are building a team that will eventually become "more successful in the future than United."
Frankly, that will be a tall order, even though there's no doubt Spurs gaffer Mauricio Pochettino is overseeing a special squad this season.
Tottenham's ranks are brimming with young and gifted players, with Kane and Alli chief among them. The former has dispelled any notion that he was merely a one-season wonder following his breakout campaign in 2014/15.
Kane has found the net 16 times in all competitions at club level this season, according to WhoScored.com. His movement is improving every week, becoming shrewder in and around the box, while Kane has not lost his knack as a natural finisher.
Those are qualities United's stunted attack has missed since Louis van Gaal became manager. The Dutchman's team struggles for goals, proved by only scoring 28 times in England's top flight so far this season, per the Premier League's official site.
At the heart of the problem is United's lack of options through the middle. The club has been overly reliant on Wayne Rooney this season, although his form has improved recently. Meanwhile, the extremely gifted, raw and inexperienced Anthony Martial sees more use on the wing at the moment.
Adding a prolific goal-getter like Kane through the middle would solve United's issues in attack. This isn't the first time people have mooted the scenario.
Back in December, Hetherington suggested in another article for the Star that United are ready to bid £50 million in the summer. Last August, Spanish source Marca (h/t Bruce Archer of the Sunday Express) even stated United had made an official bid.
Should United target Kane?
If United do make good on these rumours, Kane's fidelity to Spurs, along with his belief in what Pochettino is building, is sure to be tested.
The Old Trafford club's need for a midfielder like Alli arguably precedes Van Gaal's arrival. It's been a long while since the Red Devils boasted a true, dynamic talisman in the middle.
Alli fits the bill as perhaps the best young midfield player in the Premier League. The 19-year-old thrives thanks to ample amounts of energy, technical quality and flair in front of goal. It's the combination all true midfielders should possess.
The former MK Dons gem recently placed eighth on a list of the 50 best under-20 players in the world, according to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Aaron Flanagan of the Daily Mirror).
Alli is the type of player to build a midfield around. His box-to-box style and forward instincts would revitalise a static United midfield currently overpopulated with defensive types such as Morgan Schneiderlin, Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
But Alli and Kane apparently aren't the only Spurs players on Van Gaal's radar.
United Keen on Tottenham Full-Backs
The second half of Hetherington's latest report indicated Van Gaal is running the rule over Tottenham's full-backs: "United boss Louis van Gaal is also believed to be eyeing Tottenham’s full-backs, as the Old Trafford club have an injury crisis in that department."
United do need help at the edges of their defence, and Spurs have some talent at the positions. In particular, right-back Kieran Trippier is a player who could really help Van Gaal's squad.
The Red Devils can't continue converting midfielders to defenders or relying on unproven academy players. Spurs are deep on both sides, so they represent a good hunting ground for Van Gaal.
Which Spurs full-back do United need?
But Kane and Alli remain the prizes he'll really want, since United have a major need for both players.
Yet Spurs are building a promising-looking young squad that Kane and Alli may not want to turn their backs on ahead of schedule. There's also the small matter of which club will be playing in the UEFA Champions League next season. Fourth-placed Spurs have a five-point lead over United in the lucrative final qualification spot.
Without the lure of playing in Europe's premier club competition, even United will struggle to force Spurs into a sale.