Spurs could repeat Romero blinder with swoop for “monster” Euros star

    Tottenham Hotspur, in hindsight, completed a promising first campaign under Ange Postecoglou, finishing fifth in the Premier League and rediscovering their identity after previously falling by the wayside.

    Certainly, there’s plenty that can be improved on. Spurs enjoyed a blistering start to the 2023/24 campaign but ebbed away from that lofty level as injuries knocked the team off-kilter.

    One thing that Tottenham were not lacking was ambition – fresh faces rained in on north London and showcased Postecoglou’s burning desire to lift his team to the upper echelon of the Premier League, returning to Europe and fostering a unit capable of sustaining a position at such a level.

    There was also, however, too much flotsam bobbing about, and now that fringe players are being moved on, Tottenham can invest in crucial depth, with a new defender being lined up.

    Spurs transfer news

    According to TuttoMercatoWeb, as relayed by TEAMtalk, Tottenham are one of the clubs to have made contact over a deal to sign Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori, who is currently starring for Italy at Euro 2024.

    Valued at €40m (roughly £34m) by the Serie A side, who qualified for the Champions League last season, Calafiori has also attracted from Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle United, with the Blues and the Magpies having also been in contact with the Italians.

    Returning to European competition later in 2024, Tottenham will need depth and Calafiori boasts the kind of dynamic and versatile style to make a positive impact on Postecoglou’s squad.

    Riccardo Calafiori’s season in numbers

    Calafiori played a key part in Bologna’s prosperous campaign, finishing fifth under Thiago Motta (clinching Champions League via coefficient rankings) and said to have “everything it takes to become a revelation in Italy’s defence this summer” by journalist Zach Lowy.

    Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori

    Indeed, his efforts on the domestic front have turned Luciano Spalletti’s head and earned him a starring place in the Azzurri’s European squad this summer.

    He might have lucklessly scored an own goal as Spain defeated Italy 1-0 last time out, but the 22-year-old won five duels, made three clearances, and won two tackles and interceptions apiece, as per Sofascore, proving himself as one of the better performers against rampant opposition after a terrific opening display against Albania.

    Riccardo Calafiori: Stats vs Albania



    Minutes played




    Accurate passes

    99/106 (93%)

    Key passes


    Long balls


    Dribble attempts






    Stats via Sofascore

    Such modern-tailored tactical qualities have garnered attention in recent weeks but this is simply an illustration of a year-long success story.

    Calafiori kept ten clean sheets from 30 Serie A games last term, completed 90% of his passes, succeeded in 71% of his aerial battles – he’s been described as an “aerial monster” by analyst Ben Mattinson – and won 1.7 tackles per game, but he also proved himself perfect for a ball-centric, free-flowing system. A system, in fact, just like Tottenham’s.

    Why Calafiori would be perfect for Ange

    Talent scout Jacek Kulig said that “Thiago Motta is creating a top-class, ball-playing” defender at the end of the 2023/24 campaign, but given that the Brazil-born manager has been anointed as Juventus’ new manager, it’s conceivable that Calafiori would be tempted by a move away despite Bologna having a seat at Europe’s elite table.


    As per FBref, the £12k-per-week ace ranks among the top 1% of centre-backs across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for assists, the top 3% for shot-creating actions, the top 20% for passes attempted, the top 19% for progressive carries, the top 8% for successful take-ons and the top 4% for interceptions per 90.

    He’s an all-encompassing kind of defender with an aggressive, commanding presence, and given Tottenham’s past success in bringing such a defender in from Italy, it might just be worth making the move.

    Most recently, Tottenham signed Radu Dragusin from Genoa for £27m, but the Romanian, while highly versatile, is more of a no-nonsense defender than Cristian Romero, who melds uber-aggression with immense technical skills.

    It’s Romero who Calafiori could emulate in signing for Tottenham, with the Argentinian 2022 World Cup winner transferring from Atalanta for a £42m fee in 2021, aged 23 at the time.

    Having chalked up 98 appearances for the Lilywhites, scoring eight goals and establishing himself as one of English football’s finest centre-halves, with none other than Lionel Messi hailing him as “the best defender in the world” back in 2023.

    Tottenham defender Cristian Romero

    Possibly a little overzealous at times, but that does not negate Romero’s staggering strength. He ranks among the top 2% of positional peers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 21% for shot-creating actions, the top 9% for pass completion and progressive passes, the top 20% for progressive carries and the top 11% for tackles per 90.

    The 6 foot 1 titan also won 70% of his aerial duels in the Premier League last season, showing that a partnership with Calafiori in the rearguard would provide Tottenham with a remarkable level of aerial superiority.

    Moreover, both players boast high-class attacking qualities, albeit favouring different elements of the offensive game. But this is simply a depiction of the type of player Spurs would add to the fold, bolstering Postecoglou’s fluid, fast-attacking style of play with a defender capable of contributing effectively to build-up patterns.

    Tottenham have been moulded into a press-proficient unit under the craggy-faced Australian, instilled with a sense of energy and sharpened with a measure of athletic prowess. Calafiori embodies such traits, incredibly recovering 6.5 balls per match in the Italian top flight last year while nearly making one dribble every two outings.

    Micky van de Ven celebrates for Tottenham

    This is a player who is perfect for Postecoglou’s system. Tottenham already have a wonderful left-footed centre-back in Micky van de Ven but the Dutchman only played 27 league matches as he was tugged back by a hamstring injury.

    Calafiori would offer depth and competition; he would arrive with the air of a player capable of lifting Spurs to heights unseen in a long, long time, and possibly repeat the masterclass the club played when they snapped Romero up from the Serie A in the past.


    What Spurs’ starting lineup could look like after £201m spending spree

    Spurs will want to give Postecoglou everything he needs to build a successful side this summer.

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