By Matt Farr
Tottenham have entered the race to sign Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia this month, according to a report.
The north London club were dealt a substantial blow on Saturday as star defender Jan Vertonghen was forced off with an ankle injury during the 2-2 stalemate with Manchester City, and the Belgium international is likely to be sidelined for the next six weeks.
With only three remaining first-team centre-backs at his disposal, the Evening Standard report that Mauricio Pochettino is now looking to land Ranocchia as cover.
The 28-year-old Italy international has fallen down the pecking order at San Siro this season, and may be looking to leave the club this month in search of more regular first-team football.
He has been restricted to just nine appearances in all competitions, and has not featured in any of their last seven games.
Inter Milan are believed to be willing to part with Ranocchia, and sporting director Piero Ausilio has slapped a £5million valuation on the player, although it is said they would also let him out on loan.
Tottenham may be more inclined towards a loan-to-buy offer, with Vertonghen certain to be reinstated to the line-up following his return.
Ranocchia’s agent is understood to have already been in talks with several Premier League clubs, including West Ham and Hull, but the player is not said to be keen on a move to the latter, currently in a relegation battle.
The Hammers, meanwhile, have already strengthened their problem area with the signing of Jose Fonte from Southampton, and may not seek further reinforcements.
Football Insider verdict
Ranocchia has more than enough ability to a be a first-choice player in the Premier League, but Tottenham would only require him to fill the void in Vertonghen’s absence. His injury has left Spurs with just Toby Alderweireld and Kevin Wimmer as recognised central defenders, with Pochettino also likely to field Ben Davies as an emergency centre-back. Youngster Cameron Carter-Vickers is another option, but Tottenham may prefer a more experienced player, and they will get that in Ranocchia. He would be available both on the cheap and on loan, so a deal is very possible for Spurs, and with an important run of games coming up, they will need all the cover they can get.
In other Tottenham transfer news, Spurs are also reported to be after Inter Milan’s teenage goalscoring sensation Andrea Pinamonti.