Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is seemingly in the mood to keep his transfer momentum rolling after securing his first signing of the summer as he looks to bolster his side for the new season.
Reports from Italian news outlet Tutto Mercato Web claim that the Argentine is keeping a close eye on the situation of Sassuolo’s promising midfielder Alfred Duncan as August 31 begins to draw near.
Nonetheless, he could face some stiff competition in their pursuit of the 24-year-old – who is reportedly valued at close to £14 million – with fellow Italian outfit Inter Milan keen on snapping him up too.
Who is the Sassuolo man?
Born in the Ghanaian capital of Accra in 1993, Duncan’s footballing education began with Italian giants Inter Milan during the summer of 2010, formally joining them once he turned 18 years of age.
He spent two years working his way through and developing in the youth system at the San Siro before being awarded his first-team debut, at 20, as an 86th minute substitute at Pescara.
Over the course of the next two years he struggled to force a way into a strong Inter side under current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, only managing four appearances across his two seasons in-and-around the first-team, and he was eventually sent on-loan to Serie B side Livorno.
This proved to be more of a success for Duncan, making over 50 appearances and receiving vital experience, and upon his return to Inter he was promptly sold to Sampdoria for around £2 million.
After a solid season in the Italian top-flight he alerted the attention of Sassuolo and he has not looked back since, making a name for himself and becoming a stalwart of Ghana’s national team.
Would he fit in at Tottenham?
Duncan comes across as a player very much in the Victor Wanyama mould, being tough and powerful in the heart of the midfield, but also possessing a sense of grace and elegance in the opposition third.
He has also shown himself to be a success in Serie A due to his innate hard-working nature, always competing – even if something seems a lost cause – and this desire will impress boss Pochettino.
The 24-year-old has shown a tendency to hold the ball up nicely, something that would benefit Tottenham as they get used to a larger Wembley pitch, and his long-ball distribution has played a large part in Sassuolo’s sudden emergence as a top-flight Italian side and could add a new dynamic to Spurs’ play.
With opposition teams often setting up tight in the middle to try and cut-out the small, intricate passing between Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli – like Chelsea did – Duncan offers a completely different outlet.
How likely is a move to north London?
It is certainly not out of the question that Mauricio Pochettino could follow through on the reported interest in Duncan, with strength in depth critical to Tottenham’s aspirations of vying for silverware.
However, with the immovable duo of Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele already occupying the two holding midfield roles, it is unlikely he will feature that often, and a move to Inter may be preferable.
Moving to Inter would also give him the chance to prove himself after his failed spell there at the beginning of his career – but never rule out just how powerful the lure of the Premier League can be.