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Tottenham Hotspur 'keeping tabs on Bournemouth's Ilya Zabarnyi'

Tottenham 'keeping tabs on Bournemouth's Ilya Zabarnyi'
© Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur reportedly add Bournemouth's Ilya Zabarnyi to their list of potential centre-back targets for 2024.

Tottenham Hotspur have reportedly added Bournemouth's Ilya Zabarnyi to their list of potential centre-back targets for 2024.

After poaching Micky van de Ven from Wolfsburg to link arms with Cristian Romero in the heart of defence, Tottenham made a record-breaking start to the campaign under Ange Postecoglou, taking 26 points from their opening 10 league games.

Van de Ven and Romero quickly established a fearsome partnership in the heart of defence, but the former then sustained a severe hamstring issue against Chelsea last month, which will keep him out until the New Year.

Van de Ven's absence has coincided with a dramatic dip in fortunes for Tottenham Hotspur, who also failed to win any of their three games against Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa that Romero was suspended for.

Romero returned from a ban to open the scoring against West Ham United on Thursday, but Spurs slumped to a 2-1 defeat that day, marking the first time in Premier League history that a team has taken the lead in five successive games but not win any of them.

Tottenham Hotspur's Micky van de Ven goes down injured on November 6, 2023© Reuters

Furthermore, the Argentine is now the only fit senior centre-back in Postecoglou's ranks, as Eric Dier (groin) and Ashley Phillips (ankle) have also entered the infirmary, forcing Ben Davies to deputise in the middle.

With Dier also due to become a free agent next year and not expected to sign an extension with Tottenham, the Lilywhites will move for a new central defender promptly, potentially as early as next month.

According to The Mirror, Bournemouth and Ukraine defender Zabarnyi is the latest name on Spurs' shortlist, having apparently tried and failed to poach the 21-year-old from Dynamo Kiev in 2022.

Zabarnyi cemented a regular starting role for Dynamo Kiev during his teenage years and departed for the Vitality Stadium in January, costing the Cherries around £19.5m, but he played just five times in his debut season.

However, the Ukraine international has not missed a single minute of Bournemouth's 16 Premier League games so far in the 2023-24 season and has been crucial to their recent revival, which has seen the Cherries win four and draw one of their last five games under Andoni Iraola.

Ilya Zabarnyi warms up for Ukraine in June 2021© Reuters

Zabarnyi has helped Bournemouth keep clean sheets against Manchester United, Bournemouth and Newcastle United during that time, and Spurs have supposedly been running the rule over him for a couple of years now.

The Cherries have the centre-back under contract until the summer of 2028, though, meaning that they can afford to demand a hefty fee, and Iraola's side are understandably against the idea of losing Zabarnyi midway through the season.

Spurs have a plethora of other names on their defensive shortlist, though, including another Bournemouth man in Lloyd Kelly, whose contract at the Vitality Stadium only runs for another six months.

Everton duo Jarrad Branthwaite and Ben Godfrey have also been linked with moves to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and the Lilywhites could also try to use their Italian connections to their advantage in talks for Atalanta BC's Giorgio Scalvini.

Crystal Palace's Marc Guehi has long been tipped to join the Lilywhites too, but Tottenham could be priced out of a move for the ex-Chelsea youngster.

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Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite celebrates after the match on September 23, 2023
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