How many Belgians does it take to win a Premier League title?
Second-place Tottenham Hotspur currently have four—Toby Alderweireld, Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen—but should even that not be enough, there is gathering speculation they are interested in adding a fifth.
Gent and Belgium striker Laurent Depoitre is reportedly interesting the north London club.
The Mirror's Darren Witcoop and the Telegraph are among the latest to link the two parties amid suggestions the 27-year-old has turned down a new contract with Gent. Talk of the north Londoners tracking him dates back even further, too.
Speaking to ESPN FC's Peter O'Rourke last October, Depoitre's agent Rene Vijt did not rule out a move to England.
"He is still under contract with Gent, and they want to remain champions so they will not want to lose him," Vijt said. "He is happy in Gent, but try to find me a player that does not want to play in the Premier League."
In December, MailOnline's Simon Jones listed Tottenham as one several English outfits watching the player.
The persistence with which Depoitre is beginning to be mentioned with Spurs gives some credence to this being a no-smoke-without-fire rumour. Its reportage so far is beginning to draw parallels with their long-touted and eventually successful pursuit of defender Kevin Wimmer last year.
Champions League @ChampionsLeague
The first-ever Belgian side to reach the #UCL knockouts. Bravo, @KAAGent! https://t.co/2K7Ejos82u12/9/2015, 10:12:42 PM
Depoitre is part of a historic Gent side (see above) still in with a shot of advancing in the UEFA Champions League.
The Belgian champions are 3-2 down from the first leg of their round-of-16-clash with Wolfsburg. Having gone three goals behind, the spirited effort that saw them score twice late on has given Hein Vanhaezebrouck's team a fighting chance of progressing beyond the return in Germany.
The unfortunate side of gaining profile from such efforts is it puts your own players in a more prominent shop window. Tottenham fans can certainly emphasise having seen their own 2010-11 Champions League run alert Europe to star players like Luka Modric and particularly Gareth Bale.
Depoitre has had a big role in getting Gent to this point.
The forward signed for the Buffalos in 2014 following a successful spell with Oostende.
Having fired Oostende there, Depoitre's transition into the Belgian top flight required that first season to be a time to get to grips with the jump in level (he still scored a decent seven goals). Unfortunately for the Albertparkstadion side, by the time he did, he was playing across Flanders.
Depoitre notched 13 last term to help his new team to their first Jupiler Pro League title, securing that Champions League place in the process.
Gent currently sit second in the table, three points behind Club Brugge, and Depoitre is a key figure in their hopes of retaining their crown. On Sunday, he netted his 11th league goal in a 5-2 defeat to his former club.
Despite a late-autumn dry spell sandwiching it, two more goals marked personal milestones for the sleeper talent.
The first came on his international debut, striking in a 4-1 UEFA European Championships qualifying win over Andorra. The second in a 2-1 win over Zenit St Petersburg—his first in the Champions League helping secure second-place progression from Group H.
Champions League @ChampionsLeague
Simon finds space down the left and crosses for Depoitre who floats a lovely header over the goalkeeper #UCL https://t.co/Iu84sAAV8212/9/2015, 8:08:06 PM
They make for encouraging signs of a player not wilting as he moves up in the football world.
If Depoitre is keen to transfer outside of the Belgian league, further evidence of big-game readiness would not go amiss, however. Beginning with helping Gent beat Wolfsburg and, if a move has not occurred by then, by making the most of any opportunities at Euro 2016 (if he makes the squad, of course).
At his age, the question for Tottenham and any other possible suitors is not so much if he can make the transition to the Premier League (pertinent, but a risk with any foreign acquisition), more how long will he need to make an impact?
On Depoitre's side is a style that, on paper at least, makes him a suitable fit for the more physical English game.
At almost 6'3'', he is an obvious aerial target. The aforementioned goal against Zenit was one fine example of his technique in such situations, another being his glancing header to equalise away at Anderlecht last August.
Depoitre's finishing range extends to the ground too. He is as comfortable shooting having initially had his back to goal or dueling with an opponent as he is in space.
In Gent's recent 2-0 win over Anderlecht, the latter was seen in the way he exposed the woeful marking of Spurs' Europa League group opponents. The former could be viewed in his outfighting Kara Mbodj in the same game, reacting well to convert the rebound from his initial shot and complete his brace.
Such comfort and positive instincts in the box is a must for a striker. What may appeal to Tottenham too is a mobility that belies Depoitre's size.
Indeed, there are shades of Harry Kane in his movement, deceptive quickness and strength holding off opponents outside of the penalty area. His assured touch harnessing passes further facilitate an independence that makes him able to deliver in solo advances and faster-pace attacks.
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino and his staff would have to consider whether they want another forward with such target-man qualities. Spurs' pursuit of West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino last summer suggested they were in the market for someone offering a different style to Kane.
The £12 million price tag mentioned by the Mirror would not be so prohibitive that they could not take a chance on securing a more similar alternative to the England international. But then again, Depoitre himself may understandably prefer not to undertake a move where his primary function would be as a back-up.
Speaking prior to the win over Watford, Pochettino also spoke of his hesitance to bring in players who always "need time to settle." Something seen with Clinton Njie prior to his injury and perhaps a factor in why a hinted January move for Depoitre (in the earlier-mentioned stories) was not a goer.
"Today our people need to understand that Tottenham change the vision of the, not of the football, but of the way that we take decisions," Pochettino said. "You need to realise, and the people need to realise that, today, to improve our squad, is a very difficult job."
Bleacher Report this week also looked at the prospects of Spurs academy forward Shayon Harrison. While he is some way off first-team readiness, there is at least some reluctance at the club these days to sign players that may impede talented youngsters' path forward.
At the same time, there is only so much consideration you can give the future at the expense of the present.
Tottenham are in with a shot at a first league title in over 50 years. At the very least, they are on track for Champions League qualification.
Whether a lack of forward options hurts them or they succeed and just want to add even more goals, players like Depoitre cannot be overlooked. If they are interested, it is now a case of deciding if he fits in with their vision of football and the new decision-making that informs it.
Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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