Mauricio Pochettino rubs salt into Tottenham wounds with ‘No 1’ Chelsea target
Mauricio Pochettino looks set to rub salt into Tottenham wounds upon arrival at Chelsea after reportedly placing Lautaro Martinez at the top of his striker wish-list. The Argentine tactician is seemingly prepared to pursue a transfer for the Inter Milan frontman two years after the World Cup winner agreed to join Spurs for £60million – only for the deal to collapse in the final stages.
Chelsea were largely to blame after submitting a club-record £97.5m offer for Martinez’s strike partner Romelu Lukaku.
It soon became clear Inter did not want to sell both players – meaning Tottenham were left to lick their wounds as Daniel Levy’s rare show ambition failed to bear fruit.
Had Martinez joined, there is every chance Manchester City may have got their wish and signed Harry Kane that summer, although Tottenham sources have always indicated that the Inter Milan centre-forward was targeted to play alongside the England captain – not to replace him.
Nonetheless, The Mail are now reporting that the 25-year-old striker is Pochettino’s No 1 forward target this summer, when he will take over from Frank Lampard at Chelsea.
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It means not only will Tottenham fans have to bear the brunt of seeing Pochettino in charge at Stamford Bridge but they may also have to watch their former boss sign a player that was agonisingly close to joining Spurs – a signing they would have relished.
Other names on Pochettino’s shortlist include Napoli frontman Victor Osimhen.
There is however, huge doubt as to whether the Blues will be able to afford the £130m-rated Nigerian this summer as Napoli boss Aurelio De Laurentiis feels under no obligation to sell.
Osimhen (23 goals) is the only player to outscore Inter Milan marksman Martinez (20) in Serie A this season having also fired Napoli to the Scudetto.
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Pochettino is also thought to be keen on a reunion with Tottenham talisman Kane should he become available this summer but it’s highly unlikely Spurs would be prepared to sell to a direct rival.
Kane will have one year left on his contract at the end of June meaning Tottenham could be forced to cash-in if they fail to agree a new contract with the Three Lions skipper.
Other summer transfer targets for Pochettino are said to include Declan Rice, Emiliano Martinez and Alexis Mac Allister.
Arsenal are currently at the front of the queue for Rice as they will be able to offer Champions League football next season – something Chelsea will not.
World Cup-winning goalkeeper Martinez is understood to be open to leaving Aston Villa should the right opportunity arrive.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are leading the charge for his international team-mate Mac Allister, who is valued at £70m by Brighton following his barnstorming campaign on the South Coast.
Having splashed well over £600m in just two transfer windows under Todd Boehly, Chelsea are expected to tone down the spending this summer.
That said, they will still be able to finance a significant splurge via player sales as Pochettino seeks to clear out the deadwood within his inflated squad.
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