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When José Mourinho doesn't want you, you know. And Tottenham Hotspur defender Juan Foyth knows.

The Argentine has surprisingly been linked with a move to Barcelona this week. An example, on the face of it at least, of a player punching above their weight.

According to his agent, Claudio Curti, the 22-year-old has no future at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Speaking to talkSPORT, Curti said: “For what has happened in recent times, we don’t think so.

“But we still have a pending talk with Tottenham to clarify the future. We don’t judge the coach’s decisions and we don’t get involved in his job, but what’s clear is that the club’s project with Juan has changed.”

Fall from grace

Foyth has made just two starts since Mourinho succeeded Mauricio Pochettino on November 20. He hasn't appeared since the 2-2 draw at Norwich City on December 28 in which he was hooked at half time.

Mourinho would not have been impressed at Foyth's limp challenge on Emi Buendía, which allowed his countryman to set up Mario Vrančić for the Canaries' opener. Nor would he have enjoyed the lax pass Foyth played earlier in the half, putting Tanguy Ndombele under unnecessary pressure and leading to a Norwich chance.

Mourinho has always been an advocate of experience over youth. Foyth, with just 954 Premier League minutes is the junior partner to Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. If, as expected, the latter departs when his contract expires at the end of the season, Spurs still have Davinson Sánchez waiting in the wings.

Regardless, a central defender is near the top of Mourinho's wish list. Napoli stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly is among those linked.

So it's clear Mourinho won't shed any tears when Foyth leaves North London. But that doesn't explain the link with Barcelona.

Why are Barça interested?

The Catalan giants have done this before. When they paid just £5million to re-sign Gerard Piqué from Manchester United in 2008, eyebrows were raised. The Spaniard had made just 12 Premier League appearances for the Old Trafford club. He didn't look like becoming one of the greatest centre-backs in modern history.

There are even similarities between the two players stylistically. Whatever Mourinho thinks of him, Foyth has shown why Pochettino plucked him from the Argentine Primera División 2017.

Foyth is an accomplished passer. He looks to break the lines with penetrative forward passes, rather than sterile side-to-side possession retention. That's a big box for any potential Barcelona transfer target to tick.

In his Premier League career, the former Estudiantes prodigy has averaged 52.21 passes per 90. While that's not in the class of Piqué, it is very much at the level set by his central defensive peers at Tottenham. Moreover, comparing data across leagues is fraught with danger. Of those passes, 20.5 go forward with an impressive accuracy of 79.2 per cent.

What also sets Foyth apart is his reading of the game. His 6.69 interceptions per 90 across his Premier League career illustrate a high level of football intelligence. None of his Spurs peers can match that average in England's top flight, with Alderweireld (5.77) coming the closest.

Do Barça need Foyth?

On the face of it there's like a lot to like about the Argentine. After Tottenham's 3-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, even Mourinho stood by Foyth.

He told Sky Sports: “At the moment, the players that went to Munich with us are part of our squad, so I don’t think there will be many doors open for players to get out on loan.

“If you want to be more direct like some media that was saying Foyth was one of them – I can kill it now. No chance.”

But little over a fortnight later came the humbling draw at bottom side Norwich. Since then, Foyth hasn't been in a single Premier League or Champions League squad. He's only been deemed worthy of a spot on the bench for FA Cup ties with Middlesbrough and Southampton.

Tottenham Hotspur defender Juan Foyth

But things could be looking up.

On the face of it, Barcelona are well-stocked at centre-half. Piqué and Clement Lenglet are well-established as the Blaugrana's first-choice defensive pairing. Under them, Samuel Umtiti is a huge talent. But, at 26, injuries have blighted the last few seasons and he is deemed expendable this summer.

The same can be said of Jean-Clair Todibo. The French Under-20 cap is another with enormous potential. But he's excelled on loan at Schalke and could be sold to raise funds. Everton are among those sniffing around him.

That leaves Quique Setién short at centre-back this summer. Plenty of names have been mentioned but Foyth fits the profile, is within budget and is available.

If he's half as successful as Piqué, it'll be a steal.


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