Pochettino reveals Tottenham are targeting 22-year-old, he could replace Spain-bound star
By Tottenham correspondent Tony Hughes
Mauricio Pochettino has admitted Tottenham are closely monitoring Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti.
Football Insider revealed on Sunday that the Premier League title chasers are aiming to bolster their defence in the summer.
Pochettino told French radio station RMC Sport on Tuesday afternoon that Umtiti is one of the players on Spurs’ radar as they look to reinforce the Premier League’s meanest backline.
“”Yes, Umtiti is an interesting player with great potential that could come to England,” Pochettino said, when asked specifically about the youngster. “He is one of the players that our recruitment team is following.”
Umtiti, 22, has been a mainstay of the Lyon team this season and is able to play at either left-back or centre-half.
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The London club’s title challenge has been built upon a defence that has conceded just 26 goals in 35 league matches, comfortably the best record in the division.
Toby Alderweireld has been named in the PFA Premier League team of the season after forming an outstanding centre-back partnership with fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen.
Either side of them, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have had fine seasons in the full-back positions, with the left-back also named in the PFA team of the season, while defensive understudies Kevin Wimmer, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier have all stood in impressively at various times.
But Spurs want more defensive options as they prepare for a return to the Champions League next season.
Following Eric Dier’s transformation this season into a midfield anchorman, Pochettino has only three senior centre-backs.
Milos Veljkovic joined Bundesliga side Werder Bremen on the final day of the January window, while Federico Fazio moved to Sevilla on loan ahead of a likely permanent move to the Spanish side in the summer.
Wimmer filled in for Vertonghen for nine league games in which Tottenham lost one and conceded just six goals.
However, the Austrian remains the only senior back-up centre-back to the first choice duo now that Dier has been converted into a midfielder and Pochettino is keen to rectify this shortfall even though he has high hopes for teenager Cameron Carter-Vickers.
In other Tottenham news, Spurs are battling with Arsenal to sign the ‘next Riyad Mahrez’.