Antonio Conte has suffered a serious blow after missing out on a deal for Adama Traore, one of his priority January targets. Barcelona have instead agreed a deal to take the winger on loan from Wolves for the rest of the season.
Tottenham had a longstanding interest in Traore and, with Fabio Paratici, the managing director of football, driving the negotiations, there was confidence late last week that they would get him.
Conte has made it crystal clear he needs to strengthen his squad but Spurs enter the final four days of the window without having made a signing. The manager has even betrayed an element of desperation, saying lower-quality recruits would do; in his words “also if it’s not the best opportunity – we need to do something”.
Tottenham continue to pursue the Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat and the Porto winger Luis Diaz, with the Amrabat deal looking the more straightforward to conclude if, as expected, at least one of Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli leaves; both have been marginalised by Conte.
Mauricio Pochettino, the Paris Saint-Germain manager, wants to take Ndombele. He oversaw the midfielder’s purchase at Spurs for a club record fee of close to £60m. Ndombele is also keen on the reunion.
There is an option for Barcelona to buy Traore in the summer for €30m (£25m) plus add-ons and they will cover his full salary until June. The deal for the 26-year-old to return to the club where he started his career is expected to be completed on Friday.
Wolves would have preferred an obligation for Barcelona to buy but they dropped that to get the transfer done with Traore holding out for a move to the Camp Nou. The player had been keen on joining Spurs but the club’s failure to close a deal and the emergence of interest from Barcelona changed the picture.
Wolves have accepted that Traore will not extend his contract beyond the end of next season and rejected a £15m offer from Tottenham.
Traore joined the Barcelona youth setup and made his way via the B team to a first-team debut in 2013 but he left for Aston Villa in 2015 after only four appearances. He can play as a winger or wing-back.
Tottenham’s proposal is to take Amrabat on loan with an option to buy for €16m. The Morocco international, who is at the Africa Cup of Nations, has made only one Serie A start this season, in mid-October.
Spurs have had a €37.6m bid rejected for Diaz, who has a £66m release clause. The 31-cap Colombia international is considered one of Europe’s most exciting talents and has scored 14 goals in 18 league games this season. Ajax remain interested in taking the winger Steven Bergwijn from Spurs on a permanent deal.