Tottenham battle Man United for £21m star as CEO makes transfer vow

Tottenham will continue to pursue Bologna rising star Riccardo Calafiori but the Italian side’s CEO has made it clear they want the young defender to stay put.

Centre-back Calafiori has excelled for the Serie A outfit this season following a €4m (£3.4m) move from FC Basel last summer, making 29 appearances and bagging three assists along the way.

After struggling to make an impact at Roma between 2020-2022, along with an unsuccessful loan stint at Genoa in 2022, the Italy Under-21 international blossomed in the Swiss Super League and he has continued that form under Bologna head coach and former Barcelona and Inter Milan star Thiago Motta.

According to statistics website FBREF, the 21-year-0ld, who can also play as a left-back, has accumulated some of the best defensive numbers for centre-backs across the five big European leagues (Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, La Liga, and the Bundesliga).

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The scouting report states the 6ft 2in Italian is in the top 5 per cent for assists, shot-creating actions, ball recoveries, percentage of aerials won, key passes, passes blocked, and interceptions, and the top 15 per cent for progressive carries, successful take-ons, and tackles won.

The Roman-born Calafiori has played a big part in Bologna having one of the best defensive records in the Italian top-flight, with the Red and Blues conceding just 25 goals in 32 matches; as Motta’s side sit fourth in the table.

Clubs continue to circle for Calafiori

Unfortunately for Bologna, his performances have not gone unnoticed, with Tottenham,  Manchester United, and Juventus reportedly keeping tabs on the left-footed youngster.

However, they will not let him leave on the cheap, especially as he only joined them last summer.

Reports suggest Calafiori – who can play as a centre-back in a back two or three, or on the left side of defence – may cost between €20-25m (£17-21m) to prise him away from Stadio Renato Dall’Ara. 

If his form continues in an upward trajectory, the ex-Roma man, whose contract at Bologna expires in 2027, could leave for an even bigger fee.

Moreover, it will be will in Bologna’s interest to maximise their profits on Calafiori as according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Basel will receive ’40 per cent starting from €4m (£3.4m) of the fee for future sales’ of the Italian.

‘We would like to keep everyone’

Bologna CEO Claudio Fenucci made it clear that many of the club’s top assets, including the head coach and their players, are in demand.

However, Fenucci stressed the Serie A side is looking to kick on, and retaining as much of their squad as possible will be key to that.

He said, via Sport Witness: “We have a squad of players who are demonstrating their strength, we have a coach who we hope will continue with us, when we have greater clarity we will take stock, but this is not the moment.

“[Joshua] Zirkzee, [Lewis] Ferguson, [Riccardo] Calafiori? We would like to keep everyone in red and blue, which is their colour.”