Tottenham are stepping up their efforts to sign Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, but Antonio Conte could face competition from Aston Villa for his signature.
Conte is understood to be a huge admirer of the USA international, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, who claim he likened McKennie in private to his former Bianconeri midfield enforcer Arturo Vidal.
A report from Italian outlet Calciomercato suggests Conte instructed scouts to fly in to Turin to watch Juventus take on Atalanta on Saturday, only for the 23-year-old to come off injured.
He lasted only 64 minutes after sustaining a knee injury and was replaced by Moise Kean, although the problem is not thought to be serious.
Aston Villa are also thought to be keen on signing McKennie despite receiving a snub from the American in 2020, and had their own scouts in attendance keeping tabs on the midfielder’s display.
It is understood the midfielder may be tempted in following fellow USA stars Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent to the Premier League after spending 18 months in Italy.
However, it could take an offer as large as £30million to convince Juventus to sell, with the Turin outfit hoping to ease the burden of their debts, estimated at around £300m.
McKennie was used mainly a bit-part player under previous boss Andrea Pirlo, making just 18 starts in Serie A last season and scoring five times.
But the former Schalke man has scored twice in 11 Serie A fixtures this season and is enjoying a more prominent role under Massimiliano Allegri, who took charge in June.
McKennie is one of the few players that has maintained a decent level of performance in an otherwise disappointing start to the season for the Old Lady, as they are currently 11 points behind leaders Napoli in Serie A.
After raising concerns over the quality of his squad, it is understood Conte could begin his Tottenham clearout in January with new signings expected.
Have Your Say! Who should Antonio Conte sign in January? Comment below.
Spurs brought in Cristian Romero, Pierliuigi Gollini and Bryan Gil for a combined £63m spend over the summer while Nuno Espirito Santo was in charge.
But director of football Fabio Paratici may need to authorise more funds to be made available in January, following remarks made by Conte in the wake of their shock defeat to NS Mura last week.
Spurs lost 2-1 away to the Slovenian minnows in the Europa Conference League in a game and the former Chelsea and Inter Milan coach admitted it was a performance that helped him truly understand the task on his hands.
“After three weeks I am starting to understand the situation,” Conte told reporters.
“It is not simple. At this moment the level at Tottenham is not so high.
"I am happy to stay here but we have to work a lot to improve the quality of the squad. We are Tottenham but there is an important gap with the top teams but I am not scared.
"The club is outstanding on the outside, to create a stadium but now we start from behind.
“It is important to know this because I am not a magician and after three weeks I have found players that want to work and have great commitment. But sometimes it is not enough.”
It is thought that fringe players such as Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Joe Rodon and Matt Doherty could be moved on by Conte in order to make way for new arrivals, with McKennie thought to be one of his primary targets.