Despite already welcoming seven signings to his Tottenham side, Antonio Conte remains on the hunt for an attacking midfielder, with the most recent name touted being Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi.
After our reported interest in Leicester’s James Maddison quickly fizzled out, Conte and Paratici returned to the drawing board, and if rumours are to be believed, have identified Malinovskyi as an ideal fit.
All in all, Tottenham’s squad depth is relatively strong, however, our one clear weakness is the lack of a creative midfielder.
Since Christian Eriksen’s departure, Spurs have failed in properly replacing the Dane, with Malinovskyi potentially in line to fill the void Eriksen created.
Having spent three seasons in Serie A, at 29 years old, the Ukrainian is now valued at £25.2 million on Transfermarkt, operating predominantly as an attacking midfielder but with the capability to occupy a deeper role.
In his last three league campaigns, the midfielder has recorded 11, 20, and 13 goal contributions in his respective seasons, acting as a constant source of attacking output for Atalanta – whilst also being capped by Ukraine on 49 occasions, netting seven times for his country.
Despite this, Malinovskyi is still unlikely to be a household name for most Spurs fans, however, a deeper dive into his underlying numbers highlights just why Conte may fancy bringing him to N17.
Aside from his output, the Ukrainian ranks amongst Europe’s elite attacking midfielders over the last calendar year as per his FB Ref profile.
4.99 shot-creating actions and 3.46 shots per 90 sees him rank in the top seven and three percent for each respective metric, whilst he boasts a more than healthy 0.4 non-penalty expected goals and 0.32 expected assists per 90.
That being said, this passing accuracy may come with the territory of being an attacking midfielder; as presumably he is often attempting audacious, high-risk high-reward passes that could lead to chances.
Again, this notion is reflected in Malinovskyi’s numbers, as the Ukrainian ranks in the top five percent of attacking midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for progressive passes, as well as putting up a respectable 7.48 progressive carries per 90.
Finally, and potentially most importantly to Conte, Malinovskyi’s 21.12 pressures per 90 illustrates his willingness to run and work for the team – an absolute necessity of any Conte player.
Really, the only question over signing the Ukrainian is where he fits in the side, as Conte’s favoured 3-4-2-1 formation allows for just two central midfielders.
However, this is where Malinovskyi’s aforementioned versatility could come to fruition, as he would be able to take a more advanced role in place of Son or, more likely, Kulusevski as an inverted winger if need be.
Realistically, while it’s unlikely he would arrive as a starter, with a busy season ahead and the introduction of five Premier League substitutes, he surely wouldn’t be starved of minutes.
For now, we can only wait to see how things play out, as we’ve been here before most recently with James Maddison – who has a similar profile to Malinovsjyi according to FB Ref.
But given his contract expires at the end of the season, the Ukrainian looks significantly more attainable than the Englishman. If this transfer does materialise, it’s certainly one for Tottenham fans to get excited about, as Malinovskyi could be the creative piece of the puzzle Spurs are still missing.