Spurs transfer news: Traore, Kessie and Isco linked but are they better than those already there?

Steven Bergwijn, Harry Winks, Emerson Royal and Giovani Lo Celso have all fallen out of favour under Antonio Conte, but would his January transfer targets be an improvement?

Tottenham have hugely improved since Antonio Conte's arrival in November, with the north London side going unbeaten in seven Premier League games and climbing to sixth in the process.

However, the Italian isn't one to rest on his laurels and even while Spurs are on the up, he'll be keen to bring reinforcements through the door this month.

Adama Traore is the most likely incoming, with reports suggesting the Wolves winger could make a £35million switch.

But are Conte's targets any better than what he already has in the building? Planet Sport compares four transfer targets to current Tottenham stars.

Adama Traore vs Steven Bergwijn

Adama Traore

The Tottenham transfer rumours have been dominated by Adama Traore, with Conte seemingly a big fan of the Wolves winger.

Boasting plenty of pace and physicality, there's no doubt that Traore would add another string to Tottenham's bow, but question marks still remain about his end product and decision-making.

The rumours of his arrival are strengthened by the news that Spurs could look to offload Steven Bergwijn, just two years after he joined the club.

Ajax have been linked with a £15million move, though Tottenham appear to have rejected an initial approach.

Is it because the Dutchman is better than possible replacement Traore?


A major criticism of Traore has been his lack of goal contributions, with the Spaniard doing everything right until it comes to his end product. With the correct coaching, there's a world class player hidden away and Conte will fancy his chances of unlocking that ability.

As for Bergwijn, he's also struggled to add goals to his game. His incredible debut goal against Manchester City back in February 2020 put too much pressure on his shoulders, and he's failed to deliver at a consistent level.

Goals this season: Bergwijn (0) vs Traore (0)

Premier League goals per game: Bergwijn (0.09) vs Traore (0.04)

Shots per game: Bergwijn (0.76) vs Traore (0.87)

Shooting accuracy: Bergwijn (42%) vs Traore (27%)

Expected goals this season (xG): Bergwijn (0.96) vs Traore (2.29)

The stats back up the criticism of Traore's end product, with Bergwijn dominating stats regarding shooting and goal-getting.

Interestingly, Traore's stats also highlight his one-dimensional approach, with 100% of his Premier League goals coming via his right foot (7).

Not being able to shoot with both feet not only limits Traore's ability to get goals, but also informs defenders that he will look to cut in on his right.

Steven Bergwijn Tottenham Dec21


While scoring goals is important for any wide player, creating them is usually the priority. With Spurs boasting world-class finishers in Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, Conte will demand a regular supply from his winger/wing-back.

Whether it's intricate link-up play or crosses into the box, modern-day wingers are expected to do it all, but who out of Traore and Bergwijn prevail in this department?

Assists per game: Bergwijn (0.11) vs Traore (0.08)

Passes per game: Bergwijn (17.40) vs Traore (15.00)

Big chances created per game: Bergwijn (0.04) vs Traore (0.13)

Crosses per game: Bergwijn (0.65) vs Traore (3.18)

While Bergwijn pips Traore in terms of assisting goals, Traore's big chances suggests he actually creates more opportunities than his rival. With Kane as the focal point of the attack, the 25-year-old may see more of his passes converted at Spurs.

Traore also dominates in terms of cross output, putting in almost five times as many crosses as Bergwijn per match. With both Son and Kane potent from close distance he could also see his assist tally skyrocket in north London.


Adama Traore in action for Wolves against Sheffield United in the FA Cup

While defending seems futile in regards to wing-play, Conte is in the market for a wing-back more than he is for a forward, with reports suggesting the Italian could look to convert Traore under his famed 3-4-3 formation.

It's a role that is extremely physically demanding, requiring the player to operate at both ends of the pitch, but also requires a player versed in defending.

If Conte has deemed Bergwijn unsuitable in that position, then perhaps a glance at the defensive stats will show why Traore is his preferred option.

Tackles per game: Bergwijn (0.60) vs Traore (0.73)

Shots blocked per game: Bergwijn (0.18) vs Traore (0.34)

Interceptions per game: Bergwijn (0.16) vs Traore (0.21)

Clearances per game: Bergwijn (0.41) vs Traore (0.34)

Traore tops Bergwijn in all defensive areas bar clearances. Given Traore's previous experience at wing-back, his dominance is not surprising and maybe shows why Conte is eyeing the Wolves man.


Adama Traore warming up for Wolves vs Spurs

Steven Bergwijn (4/10)

Adama Traore (7/10)

Having crunched the numbers, it's fairly clear to see why Conte views Traore as an upgrade on his 25-year-old Dutchman.

While Bergwijn may be the bigger goal threat, the Italian is looking more for a versatile wide man to contribute at both ends of the pitch. Traore offers just that, and his chance creation also suggests there's plenty more potential to be unlocked alongside better players.

Traore looks a great signing but only if Spurs prevent the fee spiralling. Anything north of £40million looks far too big for a player of his quality, regardless of untapped potential.

Franck Kessie vs Harry Winks

Franck Kessie in action for AC Milan in Serie A

It's been widely reported that Conte will return to Italy to raid AC Milan for 25-year-old Franck Kessie.

The Ivorian has entered the final six months of his contract, meaning January is Milan's last chance to cash in on him before he leaves for free.

It appears the man he'd replace is Harry Winks, who has seen his playing time limited since Conte's arrival.

So, with Spurs eyeing up midfield reinforcements, would they be better off sticking with the 25-year-old academy product?

Passing and creativity

Average passes per game: Winks (37.29) vs Kessie (46.6)

Pass accuracy: Winks (87%) vs Kessie (90.2%)

Key passes per game: Winks (0.6) vs Kessie (1.1)

Career assists: Winks (2) vs Kessie (13)

With Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg covering most of the defensive work in midfield, Conte needs a midfield partner able to progress the ball and link up defence to attack.

In that sense, Kessie's stats show why he is a much more suitable fit than Winks, with the Ivorian beating his counterpart in every department.

Defending and discipline

Harry Winks defending against Mo Salah

Tackles per game: Winks (1.0) vs Kessie (1.3)

Interceptions per game: Winks (1.3) vs Kessie (0.8)

Blocks per game: Winks (0.4) vs Kessie (0.5)

Career red cards: Winks (0) vs Kessie (3)

While Kessie thrives going forward, he's also able to go toe-to-toe with Winks defensively, with his physical prowess helping him in duels. His disciplinary record is better glossed over, though.


Career goals: Winks (2) vs Kessie (41)

Shots per game: Winks (0.3) vs Kessie (1.4)

xG per game: Winks (0.04) vs Kessie (0.24)

While Winks has only scored twice in his 116 Premier League appearances, Kessie has scored five times in 16 appearances this season.

He's far better than the Englishman in front of goal, and is also able to strike a ball comfortably from distance.


AC Milan's Franck Kessie celebrates against Napoli

Harry Winks (5/10)

Franck Kessie (9/10)

There's a clear winner in this comparison, and if anything it highlights why Conte is so eager to land his target.

Kessie is head and shoulders above Winks when it comes to going forward, and is able to match him defensively. If he settles in well to life in the Premier League, Tottenham will have a world-class player on their hands.

Tariq Lamptey vs Emerson Royal

Tariq Lamptey, Brighton, Premier League

Tottenham and right-backs - it's just not worked out, has it? Neither Matt Doherty or Emerson Royal have impressed Conte and now it looks like he wants funds for a replacement.

That man seems to be Tariq Lamptey, with the Brighton youngster shining on his return from injury.

He's used to the wing-back role having played it under Graham Potter at Brighton, but should Conte be trying to convert £20million-man Royal to fit his style?

Defending and discipline

While Conte is scouring the market for an attacking wing-back, Tottenham's main priority still lies with keeping the ball out the back of their net.

Tackles per game: Royal (3.4) vs Lamptey (1.3)

Interceptions per game: Royal (1.1) vs Lamptey (0.8)

Blocks per game: Royal (0.1) vs Lamptey (0.1)

Clearances per game: Royal (2.9) vs Lamptey (0.5)

Career red cards: Royal (1) vs Lamptey (1)

Aerial duels won per game: Royal (1.7) vs Lamptey (0.3)

If it's an out-and-out defender Conte is wanting, then he's better off saving his cash, Royal dominates the defensive comparisons.

Passing and crossing

Emerson Royal in action for Spurs

In the modern game, it's become increasingly important that your full-backs are as comfortable with the ball at their feet than anyone in the team.

Creating chances and linking up play has become a huge responsibility for wing-backs, and this is an area Conte wants to improve.

Average passes per game: Royal (43.6) vs Lamptey (21.1)

Pass accuracy: Royal (82%) vs Lamptey (85.4%)

Key passes per game: Royal (1.1) vs Lamptey (0.8)

Crosses per game: Royal (0.8) vs Lamptey (0.6)

Under the illusion that Lamptey was the more creative player? Think again. Spurs' 23-year-old Brazilian puts in more crosses and makes more key passes per game.


Career goals: Royal (5) vs Lamptey (1)

Career assists: Royal (12) vs Lamptey (3)

Shots per game: Royal (0.8) vs Lamptey (0.5)

Yet again, it's the Brazilian who comes out on top when put under the statistical microscope. He's just two years older than Lamptey but is light years ahead in terms of career progression.


Emerson Royal shouts instructions to his Spurs teammates vs Chelsea

Emerson Royal (7/10)

Tariq Lamptey (2/10)

Tottenham may think they have a problem at right-back, but the stats suggest otherwise. Daniel Levy will be happy to know that he can put his chequebook to one side this January.

Isco vs Giovani Lo Celso

Isco is reportedly a target of Tottenham this January

Tottenham lack creativity from the heart of the pitch. Many saw Dele Alli as the answer, but the 25-year-old has gone off the boil and struggled for consistency.

That's why Spurs bought Giovani Lo Celso for £27million back in January 2020, but he's not been able to stamp his authority on a starting spot.

The Argentine is no longer part of Conte's plans and he seems headed for the door. With a new creative flair needed, Isco is rumoured to be on Spurs' radar, but he too has fallen out of favour at Real Madrid.

With the days ticking by, Spurs have a decision to make. Let's take a look at the stats to see what the right call would be.

Passing and creativity

Average passes per game: Lo Celso (38.5) vs Isco (43.5)

Pass accuracy: Lo Celso (84.5) vs Isco (88.3)

Key passes per game: Lo Celso (0.9) vs Isco (1.4)

Career assists: Lo Celso (22) vs Isco (58)

When it comes to unlocking a defence, there's no wonder Conte is looking at Isco. The Real Madrid maestro prides himself on his passing and creativity and outstrips Lo Celso in all aspects of his link-up play.


Career goals: Lo Celso (26) vs Isco (65)

Shots per game: Lo Celso (1.3) vs Isco (1.4)

xG per game: Lo Celso (0.19) vs Isco (0.23)

In terms of who's the biggest goal threat - Isco comes out on top again. The 29-year-old has experience on his side, but he outclasses his opponent not only in career goals but also in how threatening he is per match.

Defending and pressing

Giovani Lo Celso pressures Fernandinho, Man City vs Spurs

Tackles per game: Lo Celso (1.9) vs Isco (1.2)

Interceptions per game: Lo Celso (0.5) vs Isco (0.6)

Pressures per game: Lo Celso (23.9) vs Isco (16.7)

Blocks per game: Lo Celso (1.4) vs Isco (1.1)

It's important to note that while both Lo Celso and Isco play the same position, they play it very differently.

While Isco prefers the ball at his feet with time to pick a pass, Lo Celso relies on a high-octane, high-energy style, which benefits him when it comes to defending.

Interestingly, Lo Celso ranks in the top 2% of attacking midfielders when it comes to pressuring the ball. It's an important aspect of playing under Conte, and Isco would have to hugely improve if he makes the switch to north London.


Isco on the ball for Real Madrid vs Granada

Giovani Lo Celso (5/10)

Isco (7/10)

Even with Isco's more 'relaxed' approach to defending, his vision and ability to create chances is up there with the best in the world.

If Conte is looking for players to supply his forwards, then he's right to look towards Isco. At just £5million he could be a major coup for Spurs as they battle for a top-four spot.

READ MORE: Eight things you didn’t know about potential Everton manager Kasper Hjulmand

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