Marseille back down to leave Tottenham free run at bargain January deal for playmaker keen on switch

Ruslan Malinovskyi dribbling away from Omar Colley Credit: Alamy
Ruslan Malinovskyi dribbling away from Omar Colley Credit: Alamy

Tottenham are reportedly still in the hunt to sign a Serie A playmaker and have been boosted in their efforts to complete a January deal after Marseille backed away from a potential transfer.

Atalanta star Ruslan Malinovskyi is the player in question, having been linked with a move to north London over the last few months as Antonio Conte looks to add more creativity to his midfield.

The 29-year-old will be out of contract at the end of the season. To that end, the Serie A outfit have two decisions to make. They either cash in during the January window or allow him to move for nothing next summer.

At this stage, it appears the former is more likely to happen – especially with a bargain £12million fee being mooted.

Tottenham were said to be in competition with Marseille for the player’s signature. However, Tuttomercatoweb reports that the French outfit have now decided to back away from any deal.

The report states Marseille have decided to pursue younger targets who have greater sell-on value instead.

That appears Antonio Conte’s men a free run at Malinovskyi, who is known to be keen on a move to London.

The Ukraine international could now join Spurs in the new year. If they decide not to wait until the summer and land him on a free.

At just £12m, Malinovskyi would represent great value, however, having won more than 50 caps for his country.

Malinovskyi looking for fresh adventure

The former Shakhtar Donetsk star has been described as an ‘extraordinary’ talent in the past. But despite his ability, he has found life in Italy a bit tougher this season.

Indeed, Malinovskyi has netted just once in 14 games this season and also has two assists.

His overall career figures are strong though, with 85 goals in 395 games. He’s also notched seven times for Ukraine over the years.

In terms of where he would fit into Conte’s side, Malinovskyi is more of a No.10. He is also regarded as a set-piece specialist.

However, if he does arrive, Conte would potentially have to tweak his system slightly to get a creative midfielder into the side.

The Italian prefers to play a 3-4-3 system but has, at times, tweaked that to 3-4-1-2 to allow for a playmaker.

That is where Tottenham would get the best out of Malinovskyi, although Conte’s stubbornness to stick to his own formula could end up scuppering any deal.

Spurs are back in action on New Year’s Day when they host Aston Villa in the Premier League.

READ MORE: Sevilla deal for wantaway Tottenham man in doubt as Spaniards eye alternative options

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