Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach Antonio Conte and Director of Football Fabio Paratici are expected to be very busy and active in the transfer market in the coming weeks, with a number of targets being drawn up on their shortlist.
With rumours intensifying in recent days that the duo are desperate to bring both Dusan Vlahovic of Fiorentina and Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli to North London, it's becoming more and more apparent that they are utilising their extensive links and knowledge of the Italian Serie A to overhaul the Spurs squad.
🟣Fiorentina are still holding out on their €80M valuation for Tottenham Hotspur transfer target Dusan Vlahovic ahead of January.— Last Word On Spurs 🇮🇹 (@LastWordOnSpurs) December 16, 2021
🎯Vlahovic has 15 goals and 3 assists in 17 league appearances this campaign so far.
So it may not be a surprise to fans that the club are also being linked with another player currently impressing in Italy, however the man in question is someone with a growing reputation - but you'd be forgiven if you have not yet heard of him.
Ticking All The Boxes
Mattias Svanberg is a Swedish midfielder who can play as a deep-lying playmaker or as a box-to-box centre-mid, two roles that Conte is known for deploying in his favoured 3-1-4-2 tactic that we have not yet seen Spurs line-up in.
Despite still being just 22-year-old, he has already played 102 games in all competitions for Bologna since arriving back in 2018 after establishing himself as one of his home country's finest young prospects as he nailed down a starting spot with hometown club Malmo as a teenager.
Just about as nonchalant a strike as you're ever likely to see ✨— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 1, 2021
Fine finish from Bologna's Mattias Svanberg!
Wait until you see Chris Smalling's reaction 🤷♂️😆 pic.twitter.com/dllqYwl48j
This season, the Swede has made 17 Serie A appearances, scoring three times and assisting twice while making on average one key pass, successful dribble and shot each a game.
He offers creativity from deep, playing long-balls over-the-top often - which could benefit the likes of Lucas Moura and Heung-min Son who can beat the vast majority of Premier League defenders in a foot-race and are comfortable in one-on-one situations too.
However, Svanberg is also a player who likes to be on the ball as much as possible to dictate the tempo of the play and retain control - unless the counter-attack is on and he can release a teammate to drive at goal.
Bologna FC 1909 (@BolognaFC1909en) December 2, 2021
Possessing great stamina and work rate, the midfielder is a ready-made Conte player, who would be capable of making the transition into a Premier League outfit - but where would he slot in this Spurs side?
Right now, Tottenham are deploying a 3-4-2-1 formation, a system Conte is fairly familiar with, but is some way of his favoured and desired 3-1-4-2 setup - which would likely be the way we see the team line-up after January or next season.
Svanberg would likely be used as a rotational option until the team have integrated into the new system, where he would likely be the deep-lying-playmaker behind Oliver Skipp and Tanguy Ndombele or Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
🚨 NEW: Tottenham have LEAPFROGGED Arsenal in the race to sign 22-year-old Bologna midfielder Mattias Svanberg. The club know the player very well due to Serie A connections. [@theipaper] pic.twitter.com/1zvPrauThk— The Spurs Web ⚪️ (@thespursweb) December 15, 2021
The Swede's qualities would make him a perfect candidate for the deeper role in the midfield trio, which is not to be confused for being a more defensive duty - as despite being the deepest midfield position in the formation, the player fulfilling it is usually one of the most influential attacking and creative players in the team - take Andrea Pirlo and Marcelo Brozovic for instance.
Likelihood and alternative options
TransferMarkt currently value Svanberg at £10.8 million, and it's unlikely that his club will demand too much more given that they bought him for just £4 million and they are struggling like most Italian teams financially.
However, Spurs will likely have competition for his signature, as Arsenal and Manchester City are both credited with strong interest in the midfielder.
Should the club miss out on the 22-year-old, there are plenty of other options that could operate in the same role that he would likely have taken in the team, including Franck Kessie and Marcelo Brozovic who are both of a higher quality, have their contracts expiring and possess more experience - but would ultimately cost significantly more on the wage bill.
⌛️Tottenham Hotspur are now ready to make Franck Kessié an offer that will satisfy him.— Last Word On Spurs 🇮🇹 (@LastWordOnSpurs) December 15, 2021
👋Kessié is expected to leave AC Milan in the summer for free with Spurs managing director Fabio Paratici very keen on his signature.
Alternative players to Svanberg who may not demand as much in wages include Southampton captain James-Ward Prowse who has taken many fans' fancy for the role - however due to their relationship with Chairman Daniel Levy, it's unlikely they will let the English set-piece specialist go for a reasonable fee.
Hasan Salihamidžić on Marc Roca: "We are very happy that he played an excellent game after such a long time (without playing). He showed in Stuttgart that he is a great guy with a sensational mentality" [Kicker] pic.twitter.com/alCnGMi5UY— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) December 15, 2021
Potentially being available at around £10 million, the Spanish defensive-midfielder would fit Conte's system perfectly, and having just turned 25-years-old, he has plenty of room to improve and get better.