Spurs boss leaves Saints alone in pursuit of first signing

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Ever since Daniel Levy confirmed Mauricio Pochettino as Tottenham’s newest manager, there’s been non-stop speculation that the Argentine would return to former club Southampton to make his first Lilywhite acquisition.

Practically every member of the Saints first team has been linked with joining up with the high-press-loving coach in north London, from Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw to Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin.

However, it looks as if the former Espanyol boss is going to give the St Mary’s club a break as he switches his attention to Serie A for his first signing.

One third of Napoli’s Switzerland contingent, midfielder Blerim Dzemaili is the man Pochettino wants to bring to White Hart Lane, with the possibility of doing so made all the more likely by Rafa Benitez’s willingness to let him go.

A defensive midfielder by trade, Dzemaili formed a rotational partnership with compatriots Gokhan Inler and Valon Behrami over the course of the previous campaign, scoring six goals and registering three assists.

All three players are part of Ottmar Hitzfeld’s 23-man Switzerland squad for the World Cup this summer, where they are 13/5 second favourites to win Group E.

However, it’s Inler and Behrami that are Benitez’s favoured pairing and the former Liverpool boss is thought to be willing to listen to Dzemaili offers as a result.

Pochettino would first have to trim the sizeable middle section of the Spurs squad before landing the 28-year-old, with Sandro, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Nabil Bentaleb already competing for the two central midfield spots for next season’s 66/1 Premier League title contenders.

Those bloated numbers don’t even take into consideration the returns of loanees Tom Carroll and Lewis Holtby, but with Benitez reportedly interested in signing Sandro some sort of swap deal could well be thrashed out.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.