Tottenham ‘intensify chase’ for Brazilian star after ‘scouts go on four separate visits’ | Football | Sport

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Tottenham Hotspur are stepping up their pursuit of Benfica defender Morato ahead of the January transfer window, according to reports. Lilywhites head coach Ange Postecoglou is set on bolstering his defensive ranks this winter after being left short of options.

Tottenham completed a £43million deal for Micky van de Ven in the summer, and he made a sensational start to life in north London.

However, the 22-year-old Dutchman suffered a hamstring problem in November’s 4-1 defeat to Chelsea that is expected to rule him out until mid-February.

It has forced Postecoglou to use full-backs Emerson Royal and Ben Davies, and Eric Dier – in the shop window in the summer – as his centre-backs in recent weeks.

But Spurs have reportedly locked in Morato as a centre-back target in the New Year, having extensively scouted the Benfica star.

According to The Sun, Tottenham sent scouts to watch Morato in action on four occasions in November as they firmed up their interest.

And Portuguese outlet O Jogo claim that the Lilywhites have since intensified their chase, naming him a priority target next month.

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Morato was previously the subject of interest from Fulham and Nottingham Forest. But the former saw a £21.4m bid rejected, and the latter were unsuccessful with a £25.8m approach.

The Brazil U23 international graduated from the Sao Paulo academy before joining Benfica’s youth ranks in a £6.5m deal in September 2019.

He was promoted to the senior squad two years later and has since started establishing himself as an important player for Roger Schmidt.

Morato has featured 15 times in all competitions as a centre-back and left-back this season, making five appearances in the Champions League.

Postecoglou has already confirmed that signing a centre-back is at the top of his wishlist for the January transfer window.

“When you think about it, we let Davinson Sanchez go after the window closed. We kind of knew we were taking a bit of a risk,” Postecoglou said this week.

“We couldn’t get the extra centre-back that we were trying to get in, and for the early part of the year, that was fine.

“But once we lost Micky [van de Ven], and Eric Dier’s had some issues as well, we don’t have another centre-back.

“Young Ash Phillips had just joined the club, so it’s fair to say that we can’t run the risk of that happening again, so that’s obviously a priority for us in January.

“But again, we’ve got to get the right person. It’s not just about bringing another body in; it’s about getting the right one in, and hopefully that’ll happen.”

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