Antonio Conte hints he wants key Tottenham transfer deal to unlock full Harry Kane potential

Antonio Conte hints he wants key Tottenham transfer deal to unlock full Harry Kane potential

Antonio Conte has suggested that he wants to eventually bring another No.10 to Tottenham Hotspur to support Harry Kane.

The 28-year-old Spurs and England striker has been combining his finishing and passing talents in recent seasons to great effect, last year winning both the Premier League Golden Boot and Playmaker award. This year Kane has 22 goals and seven assists in all competitions and received plenty of praise for his ability to switch effortlessly from being a No.9 to a No.10.

Former Tottenham midfielder David Ginola even went as far as saying during his Sky Sports punditry from Spurs ‘5-1 win against Newcastle on Sunday: “Spurs’ new playmaker, I told you, it’s a new Harry Kane. He is their No.10 now, he’s like Maradona! It’s the new Harry Kane. “

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When Conte was asked who he would rather mark, Kane or Maradona, he not only stated that he had indeed marked the latter but hinted that he wants to bring another No.10 to Spurs to help Kane out.

“I tell you one thing that is very curious. When I was playing with Lecce and [Zbigniew] Boniek was the manager, my role was No.4, to mark man to man the No.10. I was lucky, or maybe not lucky, to mark Maradona when Napoli played Lecce, “he said.

“We lost 3-2 but I scored! My first goal in Serie A. When I was only 19 years old! It was the last season for Diego in Naples but for sure this game is impressed in my mind because I marked him and I I was very happy, despite the defeat.

“They are two different players, honestly. Maradona was a No.10, not a No.9. Harry, he was born a striker, however he has the talent and quality to play like a No.10 with another striker in front of him, but I like to have him as a striker and then eventually another No.10. Two different players with different characteristics. “

It was put to the Tottenham head coach that Kane was potentially the only world class combined No.9 and No.10.

“It depends on the characteristics of the players. For example [Robert] Lewandowski is a No.9 in my opinion. [Karim] Benzema sometimes also becomes No.10 because he likes to come back to receive the ball. Benzema is a player that is a top class striker and also has the characteristic to also go back and make an assist like Harry, “explained Conte.

“It depends on the characteristic. In the past the No.9 was the No.9, a striker. Now in the last period there is the false nine who sometimes drops. Also [Diego] Jota when he plays with Liverpool, he drops, and [Sadio] Mane and [Mohamed] Salah become the strikers. It depends on the characteristics of the players and a good coach has to exploit those. You have to try to link your idea with the characteristics of the players.

“Honestly I prefer Harry like a No.9, because when he stays into the box or the edge of the box he has great quality, right, left, also with a header, he has great potential, but sometimes when he goes back and creates space for Sonny, Bergwijn, Kulusevski and Lucas, and also the wing backs.

“It’s important to have different options, otherwise you are predictable, and in modern football your team has to be unpredictable.”

Tottenham have seen a marked improvement under Conte as 2022 has progressed and they now find themselves in fourth place in the Premier League table, with a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Italian believes that the last step now in bringing Spurs to the level of the Premier League’s best teams is the players knowing they have to fight in every minute with the belief that the result is in their hands.

“If you want to fight for something important, if you want to be competitive, you have to go to play every game and you have to know that this game has to be in your hands, not in the hands of the opponent,” he said. “You have to hope that your opponent under-evaluated the game or is not in the best form. I think this is the last improvement we have to do.

“We have to go to play a game and our feeling has to be ‘okay, this game is in our hands’. If we do what we know and we are going to win the game and it’s important that when you arrive, the final result doesn’t depend on your opponent, it means that you are competitive. If you are competitive, you are ready to fight for something important. “

On building that mindset at Tottenham, he added: “My feeling is good. Is really good. It’s positive and I repeat, in my opinion, we have improved a lot because you can see during the game that we start to try to get three points and not to go to defend or to hope that your opponent is in an unlucky day.

“My feeling is that we are improving a lot and many games now are in our hands. We have to try to address the game in the right way to get three points.”

Spurs have scored 30 goals in the Premier League in 2022, more than any other side. In total the north London side have scored 43 times in their 20 league matches under Conte and in Premier League history, the only managers to see their teams score more goals in their first 20 games at the helm are Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea (45) and Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City (57).

“We must be pleased. The stats are not so important, but the stats speak very clear,” Conte said. “I think that now we are a team that scores a lot of goals and we create many chances to score. We are improving our stats and when you improve your stats it means your position, your level, is going up.

“For this reason now, we are in fourth place because we are scoring a lot of goals and defensively we are showing solidity, but at the same time we know very well we have to improve a lot. There is space for improvement, we have to continue in this way, not be presumptuous and to think that now everything is okay because it’s not in this way.

“We are in a good way but we have to continue to work very hard and show improvement. To score the most goals in this league from January 1, it means we are working well and there is satisfaction for this.”

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