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A Perfect Kyle Walker Replacement? Who Is This Italian Right-back That Tottenham Are Targeting?

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Scout Report – Andrea Conti

Tottenham Hotspur are looking at potential replacements for right-back Kyle Walker, who is a top target for Premier League rivals Manchester City (Daily Mail). And according to reports from Sky Sports, Spurs have been monitoring Atalanta ace Andrea Conti.

The 23-year old right-back had an outstanding season for La Dea last time out as he finished with an excellent tally of 8 goals and 5 assists from 35 games in all competitions, helping the club to record a 4th-place finish in the Serie A.

His displays have attracted from fellow Serie A outfit AC Milan as well and Tottenham have reportedly sent scouts to watch him on a few occasions. With the giants surrounding the player, a move away could be on the cards in the summer.

So, let’s take a look at who Andrea Conti is and why should Tottenham fans be gushing over the possibility of signing him.

Footballing Background

Born in Lecco, Lombardy, on 2 March 1994, Conti’s footballing journey began with a trial at the AC Milan academy back in 2002. After a successful trial, the player himself rejected an opportunity to join Milan, and also rejected an offer from Inter Milan, only to join the Atalanta youth academy.

Growing up at Atalanta, he played with fellow Italian budding stars Mattia Caldara and Roberto Gagliardini for up to ten years. Having risen through the youth ranks, Conti was promoted to the Atalanta U-19 side in July 2011. In his two years with the U-19s, he made 41 appearances, netting 8 goals, to earn a bump up to the senior side.

In July 2013, Conti was shipped out on loan to Lega Pro side Perugia and he made his professional debut for his temporary club on 4 August 2013, in a Coppa Italia game. He finished the season with 18 appearances for the club, helping them earn promotion to the Serie B.

The subsequent season, he was once again sent out for a temporary stint with second division side Virtus Lanciano, where he was a regular in the first-team making 25 Serie B appearances. Upon return to Atalanta ahead of the 2015/16 campaign, Conti signed a new contract extension with Atalanta, which runs until 2019.

He made his debut for Atalanta in December 2015 in a Coppa Italia game against Udinese and went on to make his Serie A bow a month later in January 2016. Conti finished his first full season with the Atalanta senior side with 15 games, in which he netted 2 goals.

The 2016/17 season was his breakthrough year as it helped him establish himself in the first-team with some stellar displays. 8 goals and 4 assists in 33 Serie A appearances are excellent returns for a full-back.

Conti has represented the Italy national team through all age groups starting from U17s to the U21s. He made his U21 debut in August 2015 against Hungary and was also picked for the ongoing 2017 U21 European Championships.

Style of Play

Primarily a right-back, Conti has been utilised as a right wing-back in a 3-4-3 setup with Atalanta last season. Possessing some great defensive nous and attacking intent, along with bundles of energy to run up and down the flank all day long, the 23-year old has turned into a reliable presence for the team at both the attacking and defensive ends of the pitch.

Standing tall at 184cm, Conti is extremely strong in the air and more often than not comes up trumps in headed duels against opponents. A tenacious tackler as well, he enjoyed a 63% success rate in his 105 tackle attempts in the 2016/17 season. His ability to read the game and make crucial interceptions is something that has been lauded – he made 75 interceptions and 56 blocks over the course of the season.

Defensively strong, his attacking output too has been of great quality. A return of 8 goals and 5 assists in all competitions is indicative of the fact that he can be a very effective outlet for his team while going forward. To put this into perspective, Conti’s goal tally from last season is twice as much as Kyle Walker’s all-time goal-scoring record for Tottenham.

His crossing is somewhat of a letdown, but he excels in making sharp runs into the box and making cut-backs or having a go at the goal by himself. His decision-making and maturity in key areas of the pitch have been major plus points. But, at times, he tends to give away fouls a little too easily and was booked a total of 12 times last season – something that he will need to address.

What Does The Future Hold?

Earlier this week, Conti’s agent claimed that the player was edging closer to a move to AC Milan (Gazzetta Dello Sport). But with Tottenham coming into the picture, that could change. A chance to play in the Premier League and be a part of the UEFA Champions League with the North Londoners can get his head turned.

Tottenham too could hugely benefit by the capture of the player. He is young, enterprising, fits in well with the scheme of things, having proven himself in a 3-4-3 system and a four-man backline. Conti could turn out to be an excellent addition to the ranks.