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Tottenham drawn to 21-year-old defender…deal done, brakes on?

“I call him every day to come”

A deal that seemed to be finalized can’t be finalized. Tottenham Hotspur’s pursuit of center back Radu Dragucin (Genoa) is in trouble.

“Tottenham and Genoa are set to hold fresh talks over the signing of Dragucin,” European soccer transfer market expert Fabrizio Romano said on Wednesday. “Tottenham’s initial verbal offer was around €23 million. Genoa are asking for €30 million (approximately $42.9 billion).” “Tottenham manager Anzhi Postecoglou still wants Dragucin,” he added.

At the end of last month, the difference between Tottenham and Genoa’s transfer fees, which were in the billions, had grown to 10 billion won.

Initially, Tottenham’s deal for Dragucin appeared to be on the fast track. On February 2, Romano said, “Tottenham are in talks with Genoa after reaching a personal agreement with Dragucin. As the contact continues day by day, Tottenham are confident of progressing the deal.” It was a positive development.

Transfer market pundit Rudi Galletti also tweeted on February 2: “Tottenham are close to finalizing a deal with Genoa for Dragucin. The player has already agreed personal terms,” and “(Genoa) are in talks to increase the transfer fee to €27 million ($38.7 million).”

In fact, it’s Tottenham who are in the most urgent situation. They are in desperate need of defensive reinforcements. They lost Micky van der Vaart to a hamstring tear in early November last year. Cristian Romero was also sidelined with a hamstring injury late last month. Postecoglou admitted last week that the players are still not training. Despite the presence of specialist center-back Eric Dier, the boss opted for full-backs Ben Davies and Emerson Royal in place of Dier in the starting lineup.

Spurs were initially targeting French center-back Jean-Claude Todibeau (OGC Nice), but competition for the player has increased with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea. Spurs quickly turned to Dragucin.

They’ve been trying. On the 2nd, the British ‘TeamTalk’ reported, “Tottenham are reportedly calling ‘every day’ to ensure a deal is done. “According to ‘Football Insider,’ Tottenham are in daily contact to finalize a deal in early January as they look to ensure there is no change in the situation regarding Dragucin’s January move. Negotiations are progressing well and Spurs believe an agreement can be reached.”

Knowing Tottenham’s situation, Dragucin and Genoa are in a tug-of-war to secure more favorable terms. “Tottenham and Genoa have a difference in their transfer fee,” says TeamTalk. Genoa want to receive £26 million, while Tottenham are unwilling to pay more than £21.7 million.”

“Tottenham are at the forefront of the race to sign Dragucin,” Sky Italia reports, “with Genoa wanting €35m, while Spurs have made a verbal offer of €22-23m (£31.5-32.9m). There is still a long way to go, but Tottenham are confident of landing the player.”

Genoa’s asking price is relatively high considering Dragucin’s youth, born in 2002. Dragucin is a former Juventus youth product in the Italian Serie A. He was loaned to second-tier Serie B side Genoa in the summer of 2022 and completed his move last January for a fee of €5.5 million. He scored four goals last season despite playing as a defender. Genoa finished second in the league, earning promotion to the top flight.

This season, Dragucin has been a full-time starter. He’s stopped Serie A strikers from breaking off the dribble and has shown strength in aerial battles. At 6-foot-2, his physicality has allowed him to excel at one-on-one marking and attacking set pieces. In Italy, he’s been touted as the next big center back to replace Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), who was voted Serie A’s best defender last season.

However, Dragusin has only been playing regularly in Serie A for a year and a half. Prior to joining Genoa, he spent six months on loan at Sampdoria and Salernitana, but he was never a full-time starter. It would be greedy to ask for nearly $500 million for a player who is just blossoming.

For example, Kim Min-jae, who led Napoli to the Serie A title last season and won the league’s best defender award, cost Bayern Munich 70 billion won in Germany. Dragucin is not yet a comparable prospect to Kim.

Tottenham even gave in to Dragucin’s demands once. According to Romania’s Prosport on January 1, Dragucin insisted on inserting a buyout clause. “Given Tottenham’s tendency to let players go, his agent demanded a buyout clause of €70-80 million to facilitate a future move to a big club. It is believed that Tottenham have accepted this.”

Tottenham have their work cut out for them, but they need to finalize the deal in a reasonable manner. “Tottenham are making daily phone calls to both Dragucin and Genoa,” the Daily Mail reported on February 2, making it clear who is taking their time and who is in a hurry.

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