Tottenham have been handed a boost in their pursuit of M’baye Niang with former Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas ruling out a move to Marseille for the Rennes talisman, speaking to La Provence.
After scoring 29 goals in two seasons in Brittany, including a career-best tally of 15 in 2019/20, it seems that a controversy-courting striker has spent the last two months undoing all of his good work on the pitch.
Niang has flirted publicly with a move away from a Rennes side who exceeded all expectations by finishing third in Ligue 1.
As a result, Julian Stephan is growing rather tired of the relentless speculation, with BuzzSport claiming that the Rennes coach now wants his top scorer out of the door.
Tottenham have been linked with a player they have been watching for almost a decade via L’Equipe in May, while FootMercato reported that Newcastle United and West Ham were also potential destinations for Niang.
One place the ex-AC Milan youngster will not be ending up, however, is the Stade Velodrome.
“I let the player’s entourage know that we are not on him,” Villas-Boas says, ending speculation linking Niang with Marseille.
“We were contacted by his agent in February, because Andoni (Zubizarreta, L’OM’s former sporting director) had a good relationship with him.
“We have not made an offer. We have neither the means nor the interest to sign him. It is not because he does not have the quality, but because we do not have the funds and that we are looking for another player.”
Rennes are understood to want £18 million for Niang, a fee that would make him a cheaper option than some of the other strikers linked with a cash-strapped Tottenham, including Arkadiusz Milik, Victor Osimhen and Alassane Plea.
But were those two brilliant seasons in Brittany another false dawn or the start of something special for a player who has always promised much but, until recently, delivered little?