Tottenham's Squad Review - Who Stays and Who Goes in Defence
With the World Cup now concluded, all focus returns to the Premier League. The English top-flight campaign starts next month and the summer transfer window closes on August 9th.
Mauricio Pochettino’s playing style demands rock solid defensive partnerships with the ability to play from the back. In fact, he wants his defenders to start the attack. The full-backs are responsible to shuttle up and down the flanks, while the central defenders create the impetus from the back.
Let’s take a look at how well Spurs defenders fared last season and if there’s any truth to those rumours going around.
Alderweireld spent most of his career playing for Dutch side Ajax. He moved to Atletico Madrid before going out on loan to Southampton and then moved to Tottenham in 2015/16. Since then, the Belgian international has been a pillar for the Spurs defence.
However, injury during the last part of 2017 meant he had to miss some crucial matches. Sadly, even regaining fitness, he had to sit out on the bench as Mauricio Pochettino preferred Davinson Sanchez. The Belgian played 21 games for the Spurs last season, making 4.2 clearances per game.
With a tackle success rate of 78.9% and an average of 1.5 per game, he had an admirable season. After finishing 3rd with Belgium in the World Cup, he mentioned that he needed to prove something to himself. When asked about his future, the Belgian commented that it was up to the management. If Manchester United is able to agree on terms with Spurs, it is likely that he’ll end up at Old Trafford. However, Daniel Levy is one of the hardest negotiators in the business and United might not want to overpay.
Alderweireld’s compatriot is also his partner in club football. Vertonghen made 47 appearances for Pochettino’s team last season. He picked up a goal and an assist while sliding into 2.1 tackles per game. His tackle success rate is an admirable 84% while making 4.2 clearances on average per game.
Vertonghen though older than his fellow Belgian, has been able to perform at the same level. However, his contract expires in 2019. With no news of any extension, he seems likely to be moving out next year, for the time being.
Spurs and Ajax have a special relationship. The Dutch club almost seems like a nursery for future Tottenham talent. 20-year-old Sanchez was bought from Ajax last year to supplement Tottenham’s ageing defence.
After Aldeweireld caught an injury, Sanchez replaced him in the lineup and kept his position due to his ability to carry the ball into midfield. The Colombian international made 41 appearances for the club in his debut season. His passing accuracy remained close to 89% throughout the time, though his defensive capabilities suffered a bit. The centre-back made 4.3 clearances per game but could manage only 1.1 completed tackles. However, the young prospect has his best years ahead of him and is sure to grow into his role.
The 20-year-old central defender was brought in from Argentine club Estudiantes. He was used only in cup competitions, making eight appearances for the club. The young prospect impressed in the Champions League making two clearances with a 100% success rate and putting two successful tackles as well.
After an outburst regarding his pay and future at the club, Rose managed only 19 appearances for Spurs. The England international lost his spot to Ashley Young on the international stage, while Ben Davies took up the left-back spot in Spurs defence.
His contribution in those 19 matches remained comparatively poor, putting up 2.2 tackles on average while making one clearance per game. Overall, it remained an underwhelming season for Rose, while those links with Manchester United dried up.
The 27-year-old England full-back had a sensational World Cup, scoring and assisting one goal each. In the past season, Trippier made 36 appearances for the club. During that period, his pace and crossing ability helped rack up eight assists for the Spurs.
The Manchester City academy graduate is fast becoming one of the best full-backs in the league, making 1.7 successful tackles per game. Additionally, he made 2.1 clearances per game to keep his side safe. His current contract extends till 2022 and there have been no transfer rumours regarding any potential move away.
Brought in from PSG, last season, Aurier made 24 appearances for his club. Last summer, Manchester United was linked with the full-back but he ended up transferring to White Hart Lane. However, he had a not-so-memorable start to his Premier League career with a few gaffs that cost his team dearly. Despite that, he scored two goals and provided three assists last season.
He made 2.4 successful tackles per game along with 2.6 clearances. He is able to play on either flank and will fight it out with Trippier and Davies for a starting spot.
Davies is a Welsh international and signed with Spurs in 2014/15. He made 40 competitive appearances for the club this past season and has been most effective on the left-back position. He can play in midfield as well as centre-back positions as well and provides a versatile option for Pochettino. The Wales international made 1.6 successful tackles with a success rate of 64% while making 2.5 successful clearances per game.