Antonio Conte has spent over £150million as Tottenham manager, but that’s not to say that he was given all the players he wanted.
The charismatic Italian manager joined Spurs with the aim of instant success. At the time, plenty of fans and pundits alike described their business last summer as positive and a step in the right direction.
Conte wasn’t quite given all the players he wanted though. We’ve taken a look at nine signings that Spurs have missed out on whilst Conte’s been in charge and question whether the club might’ve been better off if they’d got them over the line.
It’s no secret that Conte and Lukaku see eye to eye as the Belgian forward enjoyed his best seasons at Inter with the Italian manager. Lukaku still talks about Conte to this day with the utmost respect.
“Conte has improved me in all ways,” Lukaku told reporters in 2020. “Thanks to the coach I understood who I am, it’s the first thing that needs to be understood.”
Football Insider revealed that Conte was desperate to sign Lukaku in the summer, but the club would not sanction a move as they wanted to bring in younger stars.
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Stefan De Vrij
Along with Lukaku, Conte also missed out on another of his former Inter players. Tottenham were aware of his contract running down at Inter, but the club reportedly blocked a move despite Conte’s request.
Spurs did make Cristian Romero’s move permanent in the summer, along with signing Clement Lenglet on loan to cover this position.
Before Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal swooped in to secure the Belgian international, Brighton had reportedly made it clear that he was up for sale. Trossard was into the final six months of his contract at the Amex and had fallen out with Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi.
Tottenham were firmly linked with the 28-year-old but failed to make a transfer happen. Given his ability to play across the frontline, and his excellent form in the first half of the season, he would’ve been a really useful player for Conte.
To make matters worse for Conte and Spurs, Trossard has started out like a house on fire with Arsenal.
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The reports that Conte was keen on the Wales international certainly raised eyebrows last summer. He was ever-present in the summer gossip columns, having seemingly been deemed dispensable by Leeds United.
Having shown some flashes of his raw potential in his early days at Manchester United, James has failed to kick on in recent years. The speedy winger was sold by the Red Devils to old rivals Leeds in the summer of 2021. The move to Elland Road failed to reignite his career and he’s since been shipped out on loan to Fulham, where he’s only played a role on the periphery of Marco Silva’s squad.
Given that, you imagine it’s a bullet dodged. It’s hard to look at James as the one that got away, but there would’ve been intrigue in how Conte utilised the 25-year-old. After all, the Italian coach once made Victor Moses look like a world-beating wing-back.
Reuters correspondent Fernando Kallas suggested that Spurs were chasing the Atletico Madrid winger’s signature up until the final days of the transfer window.
The 29-year-old looks a natural fit for what Conte demands, particularly with his experience of grafting away and contributing defensively out wide under Diego Simeone. However, a move never materialised and Carrasco ended up staying put in the Spanish capital.
Tottenham managing director Fabio Paratici was reportedly keen on the Ukrainian, famed for regularly scoring absolute blooters in Serie A for Atalanta.
Malinovskyi reciprocated by ‘liking’ a tweet about Tottenham in the late stages of the summer transfer window, but that’s as far as the very public flirting went. For whatever reason, Tottenham opted against making a proper approach for the 29-year-old, who has since signed for Marseille.
We’d have been interested to see Malinovskyi fit into Conte’s midfield. He certainly could’ve added some extra thrust behind the front three.
Back in July, the Daily Mail reported that Spurs were “still keen” on signing Villarreal centre-back Torres – in spite of landing Clement Lenglet on loan from Barcelona.
The 26-year-old Spain international was one of the Yellow Submarine’s standout individuals as they won the Europa League in 2021 and followed that up with a run to the Champions League semi-finals last season.
He’s ended up staying put at the Estadio de la Ceramica and remains a key player for Villarreal as they challenge Atletico Madrid for a top-four finish in La Liga. We can’t help but feel Torres would’ve fared better at Spurs than the somewhat underwhelming Lenglet.
It never appeared that Spurs were really in for Fernandez, with concrete links in the media thin on the ground, but you have to ask yourself – why not?
Whilst he was still at boyhood club River Plate last season, the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and even Wolves were linked with the rising star as he established himself as one of the finest young prospects in South America.
In the end, Benfica won the race for his signature, signing him for just €18million in the summer. They flipped him for a quick profit as his World Cup heroics drew the attention of Chelsea.
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Last August The Sun reported that Tottenham were “on the verge” of signing Phillips from Blackburn Rovers. Spoiler: they weren’t.
Back then the 17-year-old defender had only just made his debut, but he’s an England Under-19 international and is viewed as one of the brightest young prospects in the Championship.
Having stayed put at Ewood Park, it will be worth keeping an eye on how the teenager develops in the coming months and years. If Spurs genuinely were interested, you imagine they’ll be keeping tabs on his progression.
One for the future, you can’t imagine Phillips would’ve made an impact had he been signed in the summer. Indeed he might’ve been loaned straight back out. A player to watch out for, regardless.