Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen could follow former team-mate Christian Eriksen to Inter Milan this summer.
The centre-back is out of contract at the end of the season and the Serie A club have set their sights on the 32-year-old on a free transfer, should he fail to agree a new deal with Spurs.
Inter snapped-up Denmark playmaker Eriksen in a cut-price £17million deal last month after he ran down his own Spurs contract. They have also signed Ashley Young, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez from Manchester United and Chelsea’s Victor Moses in a Premier League recruitment drive under their head coach Antonio Conte.
The former Chelsea boss next wants to strengthen his defence, particularly if Inter cannot keep hold of highly-rated centre-half Milan Skriniar, who has attracted interest from Manchester City, and Vertonghen is among their summer targets.
The Belgium international has been free to speak to overseas clubs since January and the Scudetto challengers are thought to have already made contact with his camp.
Spurs manager Jose Mourinho insisted in December that he would like Vertonghen to follow Toby Alderweireld in signing a contract extension, but talks have stalled over the terms of any deal.
Vertonghen has lost his place in the first team, with Mourinho most recently preferring a centre-half pairing of Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez. The promotion of 20-year-old Japhet Tanganga has also weakened the player’s hand, although the club are reluctant to lose him for nothing.
Mourinho has previously hinted that Vertonghen’s agent is to blame for the impasse, but Tom De Mul said last month that his client could still stay at the club, while admitting interest from elsewhere.
“Jan is still super-happy at Spurs and loves London,” he told Belgian newspaper HLN. “He is still very committed. There’s a lot of respect for Tottenham, just like there is a lot of respect from the club towards us. That’s logical after eight seasons. There is a connection.
“We haven’t reached an agreement as yet, but we don’t rule out anything. There’s interest in him as a free agent, but Spurs is a very interesting option for us. The door’s still open.”
Vertonghen has said he would like to finish his career with former club Ajax, but a move to Inter could see him earn a pay hike, aided by beneficial new Italian tax laws, and reunite with Eriksen, with whom he also played at Ajax.