For years now, scouts have been tipping Nahitan Nandez for a big move, and it seems like the summer of 2021 could be his time.
The Cagliari man is being chased by Tottenham Hotspur, who see Nandez as a potential replacement for Moussa Sissoko, but there is also interest from Serie A champions Inter to contend with.
Here’s everything you need to know about Nandez.
The most common description of Nandez is ‘box-to-box midfielder’, and he’ll play that role regardless of where he is deployed on the field.
Primarily a central midfielder, Nandez has played out wide in attack and even played as a wing-back, with his managers always confident that his undying stamina will make him dangerous in any position.
He’s more than just a bundle of energy, though; he’s a capable passer and is brilliant at advancing play – but his constant running is what sets him apart from the rest.
Nandez actually brings quite a similar play style to N’Golo Kante. While he’s known for his high press and defensive tenacity, he’s actually far better on the ball than some give him credit for.
When he recovers possession, Nandez is smart enough to pick out the right pass to get his side moving forward, but he’s comfortable driving forward with the ball at his feet as well.
Nandez is never going to be an elite playmaker or a prolific goalscorer, but he doesn’t have to be. He does enough elsewhere.
In a birthday message to Nandez in December 2020, Cagliari described his game perfectly.
They wrote: “He runs an average of more than 11km per game. From the starting whistle to the final one, Nahitan Nandez never stops: a perpetual motion, an explosion of adrenaline that shocks the whole team.
“He collects balls in series, plays them wisely: a concentration of quantity, quality and determination.”
Nandez won over fans of Penarol, Boca Juniors and Cagliari with his ferocity and aggression. Despite his small frame, you’ll regularly see him flying into challenges and matching up with far bigger midfielders.
He puts pressure on opponents as soon as they get the ball and is not afraid of over-committing as he knows he has the agility to get back.
As you’d imagine, Nandez does rack up the yellow cards quite quickly, but he’s usually composed enough to avoid picking up two in one game.
Links between Nandez and England have been around for years. Leeds have been tracking him for what feels like an eternity, and his agent confirmed their interest in heading to the Premier League.
Nandez’s agent, Pablo Bentancur, told LUFCFANZONE that the midfielder ‘wants to play in England’ and is prioritising a switch to the Premier League over staying in Italy.
In the same interview, Bentancur also revealed one club is Nandez’ top destination…
“Our wish is to play in England; if it is with Leeds United that would be much better!” Bentancur continued.
“Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini and Andrea Radrizzani are very close friends and have already spoken. It is in the goodwill of these two presidents to close the operation.
“Nahitan already wanted to sign with Leeds and Bielsa when he was at Boca. England is more his type of football and Leeds would be ideal because of the style of play and because the player grows and becomes important under pressure.”
Nandez teamed up with fellow Uruguayan Diego Godin at Cagliari in 2020, and the former Atletico Madrid and Inter centre-back did not hide his delight at lining up alongside his countryman.
“I have known Nandez since 2014, he is a friend, we play in a national team that has values,” he told the club’s official website.
“His strength is his heart, he leaves everything on the pitch. He has physical strength, he can play on the outside like a mezzala. Just give it space to run.”
Growing up in South America, Nandez had plenty of superstar talents to idolise, but the man who sits atop his football throne is Argentina and Boca legend Juan Roman Riquelme.
Nandez confessed to Fox Sports that he dreamed of emulating Riquelme at Boca, and the legendary former midfielder has even admitted to being impressed with Nandez at his old club.
“I see him as a midfielder, but you need to ask him where he’s comfortable!” Riquelme told TyC Sports. “He played well as a winger the other day but I see him as a midfielder.”