Why Tottenham Hotspur must revive their interest in Keita Balde
The clock read 86 minutes at San Siro, Milan. Tottenham Hotspur were leading 1-0 against Inter Milan in their opening fixture of the 2018/19 Champions League match.
But a moment of absolute magic from Mauro Icardi brought the Italians back into the game and three minutes into injury time, Matias Vecino got away from the marker and headed home the winner for Inter. Interestingly enough, one of the substitutes who came on for Inter and helped them secure all 3 points, Keita Balde, could have been a Spurs player.
“Yes, it is true. I have been following him since he was growing up at Barcelona while I was at Espanyol. He has always been a player of interest for us, but then he chose Monaco. He remains an excellent attacker.”
Balde is a 23-year-old Senegalese winger who plays for AS Monaco but is currently on a season-long loan at Inter. He came through the ranks of La Masia and moved to Lazio in 2011. Keita then spent the 2012/13 season playing with Lazio’s Primavera youth side and training with the first team.
Eventually, he was selected by head coach Vladimir Petković to sit on the bench for some matches in the latter part of the season but he did not make his senior debut. Finally, his debut came against Chievo in a 3-0 home win in September 2013.
In his four years at the club, the youngster scored 26 goals and provided 5 assists in the Serie A. But in the 2016/17 season, he started 21 games for Lazio and scored an astounding 16 goals and set up 3 more. It was during this time that Pochettino was interested in him but Keita chose to move to Monaco over Tottenham (h/t The Sun).
But he didn’t exactly hit the same heights in the Ligue 1 when compared to the Serie A. In 19 starts in the French top-flight, Balde could only muster 8 goals. As a result, he returned to Italy on loan, joining Inter.
To be honest, Spurs could try to sign Balde in the summer of 2019. His numbers prove his quality and paint an encouraging picture of his potential. Not signing a single player has already come back to bite Spurs this season and the club shouldn’t make the same mistake next summer.
The north Londoners need depth to compete on four different fronts and to that end, signing Balde could be a masterstroke.