Spurs lead race to sign Brazilian Malcom
Tottenham now appear to be leading contenders to bring in Brazilian forward Malcom after Arsenal withdrew from the runners.
Arsene Wenger turned his attentions elsewhere to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he was not prepared to pay a £50 million asking price set by Malcom's club Bordeaux. Now Spurs believe they can sign the 20-year-old for just £30 million up-front thanks to chairman Daniel Levy's negotiation skills.
The growing sense of optimism around Tottenham was summed up by manager Mauricio Pochettino's refusal to deny his interest in the Brazilian.
"Yes, but he has been linked with different clubs," he said when it was pointed out the forward known for his pace was available. "I don't want to speak about players that are in other clubs."
Tottenham have allowed Georges-Kevin N'Koudou and Marcus Edwards to join Burnley and Norwich City respectively and when asked if that created a void in the squad, Pochettino resorted to humour. "Our football is playing football," he said. "It is not counter-attack. It is not transition. I think Usain Bolt is free. I think he is available. But his dream is to play at Manchester United. I feel sorry for him because he is a Man U fan. It is impossible to be faster than him."
Pochettino has always insisted he would be satisfied if the club did not sign anyone in the January transfer window, but even though he refused to discuss Malcom, it appears as if he is the signing he is dreaming of.
"We are here and relaxed," he said. "To be honest it is difficult, but always at some point you dream. If it happens it happens.
"I'm not a specialist in the market. I'm a specialist in football. It is difficult to assess the market. It is difficult to predict and know what is going on. The most important thing is to be focused and ready."
This week Pochettino celebrates five years in English football and ironically the fixture computer has served up a trip to his old club Southampton tomorrow. "I think I am a better manager," he said. "I'm not talking about results, win, lose, titles. I feel better, with more experience. I feel that can help the players.
"I am always conscious about that, always you need to improve and you must improve every day. You cannot stop improving in life but in football more because it is so quick. The football moves."
Pochettino believes his big success has been to get the best out of youngsters, with a ploy to lower squad sizes at all of his clubs.
"In the past at Espanyol I told my sporting director rather than have 25 professionals I would rather have 20 or 21 and give four or five places to use younger academy players," he said. "Because if we have 25 senior player it is so difficult to find the space and provide the younger ones the space to play.
"When we arrived here three-and-a-half years ago we had 33 professional players, how do you provide younger players with possibility to play? At Southampton it was the same."
Southampton v Tottenham,
Live, Sky Sports, 4.0 tomorrow