Antonio Conte has urged Tottenham to act in the January transfer window after he said signings are essential if the club is to qualify for Europe next season.
The 52-year-old replaced Nuno Espirito Santo in November and he has since undergone an evaluation of the Spurs squad with a meeting due to take place with chairman Daniel Levy, football managing director Fabio Paratici and director of technical performance Steve Hitchen to finalise their plans.
Sources have told ESPN that Conte will be given considerable funds to overhaul the squad although the bulk of that work will take place at the end of the season.
Conte’s priorities are believed to include signing a centre-forward, a centre-back and a right-back. Dele Alli and Matt Doherty are just two of several players who will be allowed to depart if suitable offers arrive as Conte eyes changes to help improve the club’s fortunes. Spurs are sixth in the Premier League with at least two games in hand on teams above them.
“After only two weeks, I said we need to improve the quality of the squad,” Conte said at a news conference on Thursday.
“For sure we need to improve the quality of the squad. I was sure after seven days, 10 days, two weeks about this. And then I make the evaluation who are the players I can count on and the players I can’t count [on].
“This squad needs to improve the quality but it is important before to think something [about] a different place in UEFA [Champions League, Europa League] or Conference League. This league, the level is very high and now you are in the middle.
“You have to think to build something important, for this reason I ask for patience and time. In this moment, the gap is very large and we need to work a lot and also to try to build and improve the quality of the squad.
“For sure, now the situation is more clear than before. I am waiting to have a meeting with the club and then also to give my opinion about the squad and what I think about our situation.”
Conte ruled out the possibility of Harry Winks leaving the club next month. The 25-year-old had fallen out of favour under Nuno and was linked with a move to Sevilla in the summer but impressed in recent starts against Liverpool and Southampton.
“Winksy is playing well,” Conte said. “Winsky is showing to be a really able player and for this reason, Winksy will stay here. I’m finding out which players are reliable and I can count on them. Winksy showed me that I can count on him.”
The answer was in marked contrast to a question about Tanguy Ndombele, who pushed to leave the club in the summer. Sources have told ESPN that Tottenham also briefly explored the possibility of using Ndombele in a part-exchange deal to sign Lyon’s Houssem Aouar but an agreement could not be reached.
Last month, Conte said the 25-year-old needed to “play into the team” more often and when asked what role he could play at Spurs, the Italian bluntly replied: “He is a midfielder.”
However, Conte was upbeat about the prospect of Hugo Lloris extending his stay at the club despite the 35-year-old’s contract expiring at the end of the season.
“Hugo is a Tottenham player,” Conte said. “He is the captain and for sure, he talks with the club to try to find a solution. I think Hugo wants to stay in this club. He loves this club. He stays well in Tottenham and I think this could be his opinion.”