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Hiroki Ito to Tottenham transfer makes sense but Ange Postecoglou wants other signings first

Tottenham Hotspur have scouted Stuttgart's versatile centre-back Hiroki Ito and Nottingham Forest's Murillo among a number of potential centre-back options this summer but would only move for a defender once other positions further up the pitch have been addressed, football.london understands.

Ange Postecoglou admitted towards the end of the season that he was looking for another central defender to join this summer to boost his options. The Spurs boss lost Micky van de Ven for almost three months with a hamstring injury and vice-captain Cristian Romero for six matches through suspension and his own smaller hamstring problem.

Radu Dragusin was brought in from Genoa in January to add to Postecoglou's options, but with Eric Dier joining Bayern Munich, Japhet Tanganga released, Joe Rodon set to depart and Ben Davies approaching the final year of his contract with youngster Ashley Phillips and Alfie Dorrington yet to make their debuts, Postecoglou is looking for another senior arrival in that department.

"If you're saying 'is it an area we can strengthen?', yes it’s an area we will probably look at", the Tottenham head coach said in March. "With all these things, it’s about trying to strengthen the group as much as anything else. If you think about when I first arrived, we had maybe six or seven centre-backs at the club. So it’s not just numbers. It’s more about the ability of those players to play the football we want and to fit in to what we’re trying to build here.

"I think it is an area of the park we will look to strengthen, but I think we’ll look to strengthen all areas of the park come the end of the season. That is planning that's already underway, and other people are in charge of it at the moment."

football.london understands that any potential centre-back arrival will likely happen later in the transfer window with the midfield and attack the priority areas this summer for reinforcements as well as another full-back to replace any that leave.

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Tottenham are believed to have scouted Ito and Murillo among the list of potential candidates to bolster the central defensive recruits. Long-serving left-back Davies impressed Postecoglou this season when he filled in during the club's injury crisis, but the Welshman's future is unclear as he approaches the final 12 months of his deal and the 31-year-old could seek regular first team football eslewhere.

Both Ito and Murillo are relatively young and left-footed to create a balance to Postecoglou's centre-back options and they come with different skillsets. The latter, who turns 21, has plenty of skill on the ball and grew up as a striker before moving into midfield and then defence back in Brazil.

Forest face having to sell players this month to comply with financial fair play rules although with Spurs potentially not looking at centre-back options until later in the summer that could allow others to come in within the next couple of weeks for Murillo before the June 30 profit and sustainability rules deadline for accounts, with most of the Premier League's top clubs linked.

With Ito, who turned 25 last month, Spurs have to monitor another financial element because the Japan international is reported to have a release clause of just under €30million (£25.3million). Clubs in Saudi Arabia have reportedly been keen to meet that clause but the player has shunned such offers, although reports in Germany suggest a Premier League move would be a different matter.

The Japan international has become an integral figure in the Stuttgart backline in recent years and he would also hold the appeal for Tottenham of being able to play at left-back as well.

With Postecoglou's past in Japanese football, he will be aware of the former Jubilo Iwata player, who made the switch direct from the Japanese second flight to the Bundesliga on loan in 2021.

Should Davies decide to depart then Ito would prove to be an option that covers both of the roles that Spurs' longest-serving senior player was utilised in last season. That would allow Spurs to focus their full-back search, in case of Emerson Royal's departure with AC Milan interested, on a new right-back.

For now though there has been no concrete moves made towards centre-backs because of Postecoglou's need for more attacking and midfield options, although those within Spurs have distanced themselves from links coming out of Germany with Ito's Stuttgart team-mate Chris Fuhrich.

Tottenham are also focused on getting players out of the door with talks having been held with Tanguy Ndombele to mutually bring an end to his contract with the club, while there is also interest in Giovani Lo Celso in Spain. Should both players depart the north London outfit then all of the players signed in Spurs' costly and ultimately unsuccessful 2019 summer window will have departed the club, with Ryan Sessegnon released this month and Jack Clarke having previously departed for Sunderland.

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