Tottenham are in negotiations with Southampton over a deal that would see Pierre-Emile Højbjerg move to north London and Kyle Walker-Peters make a permanent switch in the opposite direction.
There is a growing confidence on all sides that the deal will happen, with José Mourinho having identified Højbjerg as the holding player he needs to rebalance Spurs’s midfield. At 24, the one-time Bayern Munich wunderkind fits Tottenham’s ideal profile for a signing. Walker-Peters has enjoyed himself since joining Southampton on loan in January – he has played regularly since the Premier League’s restart – and he is open to continuing his career at St Mary’s.
The biggest hurdle to overcome concerns the valuation of the players. Southampton had put a £35m price tag on Højbjerg before lockdown but his situation has since changed. The club have stripped him of the captaincy and he has been left out of the team in recent games. With one year to run on his contract, Southampton would seek about £25m for him. Spurs rate Walker-Peters highly but Southampton will not pay a premium for a player with relatively little league experience. There is also the deflationary impact of coronavirus to consider.
Mourinho is under pressure to make a success of Spurs’s record signing, Tanguy Ndombele, who joined last summer from Lyon for a little under £60m on a lucrative six-year contract. The midfielder’s value has decreased after a difficult first season but it would be hard to see Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, cutting any sort of losses on such an outlay.
The discussion at Spurs has turned to how Mourinho – who has used Ndombele only sparingly – can create a platform for him to thrive. Signing Højbjerg to play a disciplined role in front of the back four with Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, another expensive recruit, in more advanced positions in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 has merit.
Mourinho said last week that Spurs would not stand in Walker-Peters’ way should the 23-year-old wish to move on. “The general feeling is there’s a place for him here,” Mourinho said. “But if his desire is to be playing every time and leaving the club in search of happiness, I don’t think we’d stop him. He’s a player with a good value in the market but I don’t think we’d stop him doing it.”