B/R Football Ranks: Jose Mourinho's First Transfer Targets at Tottenham

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportNovember 22, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29:  Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on November 29, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho is back—and this time he seems different. In his first press conference as Tottenham Hotspur boss on Thursday, he was smiling and relaxed. It was weird.

Since the Portuguese was axed by Manchester United 11 months ago, sources say he has worked hard to reinvent himself on every level. Now we wait to see how long he can wear the mask.

At Spurs, he will be paired with chairman Daniel Levy, a man who is strict in the transfer market. He likes to be the one to make big transfer decisions at the club and is extremely careful over significant investment. If he's going to spend, the deal has to hold good value.

Mourinho has been the opposite for most of his career. If he spots a problem, he usually needs immediate cash to fix it.

There is a chance the two men will clash, even though early whispers from informed sources suggest the former Chelsea boss has vowed not to put pressure on Levy to spend big in January.

Let's be honest, though, he'll eventually revert to type.

As Sam Tighe explained on this week's B/R Football Ranks podcast: "There is every chance Mourinho walks in, assesses his squad and says, 'Right I need a new centre-back, two new full-backs, a new centre-mid, a back-up striker...and maybe even a new goalkeeper'.

"Do you think all that is coming in the next year? Absolutely not."

As Mourinho now begins to judge every player, we have been speaking to sources at Spurs and people with knowledge of how the new manager likes to work.

We have drawn up a list of targets Mourinho is most likely to target in his first two transfer windows as Tottenham boss. 

Because, let's face it, he's going to spend money.

           

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Tim Ireland/Associated Press

This rumour gained momentum on Friday when it was reported by Jason Burt of the Telegraph that Mourinho could take advantage of the fact Ibrahimovic becomes a free agent in the new year. But this will take all of his powers of persuasion to pull off.

Sources close to the player told B/R on Thursday that the 38-year-old is "98 percent sure" his next club will be in Italy, where AC Milan, Napoli and Bologna have all shown serious interest. 

There are also a couple of other issues he would have to deal with at Tottenham. First, how would Ibra cope with being a back-up to Harry Kane? Second, could the club's pay structure even stretch to meet his demands without upsetting other elite talent?

          

4. Gareth Bale

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 05: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid in action during the Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Granada CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 05, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Spurs fans mourning the departure of Mauricio Pochettino will be sceptical of the new setup. But to see their team with Mourinho on the touchline and Bale in attack is not a bad way of getting them back onside.

The former Real Madrid boss has always been a huge admirer of the Wales international, but he isn't going to push heavily for his return to Tottenham.

Part of the reason is that he doesn't really have to—this one could open up anyway.

In light of Bale celebrating behind a "Wales. Golf. Madrid" banner after his country's qualification for the Euro 2020 finals on Tuesday, Madrid news sources are convinced like never before that his time is up. This time he cannot turn things around.

With that in mind, a January transfer might have to happen. And one source suggested, an initial loan, with a view to purchase, may now become feasible for the 30-year-old.

One Spurs insider also commented to B/R that chairman Levy is open to Bale's return if the right terms are in place. If it really does present itself, there is no way Mourinho could resist adding him to the attack.

It's a rumour to watch.

        

3. Bruno Fernandes

LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - NOVEMBER 17: Bruno Fernandes of Portugal controls the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier between Luxembourg and Portugal on November 17, 2019 in Luxembourg, Luxembourg. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

It was surprising not to see Fernandes leave Sporting CP last summer, and there is no doubt he is still being pursued by a number of top Champions League clubs.

The midfielder has a great knack of not only creating goals from midfield, but also scoring them. And sources say Mourinho has kept a keen eye on his performance levels while out of a job.

That could be because they share Jorge Mendes as an agent, which would surely help the new Tottenham manager to secure his next move.

He's definitely on the radar, but one concern for Spurs will be that the 25-year-old gets an offer from an even bigger club soon. 

         

2. Nemanja Matic

Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (R) gestures as he speaks with Manchester United's Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Young Boys and Manchester United at The Stade de Suiss
FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images

Within minutes of Spurs releasing their statement over Mourinho's appointment, Twitter was full of memes that Matic would be next through the door at the north London club.

Mourinho has signed him for both Chelsea and United. With a January exit from Old Trafford seemingly on the cards, it all adds up—even without any evidence.

Interestingly, though, there really is some truth to it.

B/R sources confirmed Mourinho does have the 31-year-old in mind as someone who could step in and help with the squad transition in the short term. 

           

1. Ruben Dias

FARO, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 14:  Ruben Dias of Portugal and SL Benfica in action during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier match between Portugal and Lithuania at Estadio Algarve on November 14, 2019 in Faro, Portugal.  (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)
Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Central defender Dias is so highly regarded at Benfica that they want him to become the next captain, even though he is only 22. However, they are also realistic about the fact they will have to let him leave if his €66 million (£56.7 million) valuation is met.

Mourinho will have already noticed how Tottenham's back line has become fragile and that gaps have been opening up too easily in the centre of their defence. A new centre-back is almost a guarantee at some stage in 2020.

Manchester United scouts had an eye on Dias when Mourinho was in charge, and the new Spurs boss is believed to have already mentioned his name to Levy when negotiating terms over the job.

A move in January is unlikely, but this really could be a goer at the end of the season. 

Listen to the B/R Football Ranks podcast. New episodes every Wednesday. Subscribe here. And if you are already a fan of the show, vote for it for Best Podcast at the FSA awards here

 

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