After the excitement around Son’s arrival from Leverkusen settled a little, people began to realise that Tottenham had failed to address a major problem position of last season, the midfield. Spurs sold three midfielders this summer – Paulinho, Stambouli and Capou.
While it is good that Mauricio Pochettino decided to get rid of the deadweight, fact remained that the club ignored a problem position and the departure of three midfielders meant that they don’t have enough cover for the position.
The worry remained that the side was missing a leader who could sit in front of the defence and shield it with command and composure.
However, in hindsight it seems that Pochettino was clever and knew better than to spend big money on an arrival. He has operated 21-year-old Eric Dier in the midfield. The former Sporting Lisbon player was used in the midfield in the pre-season and initially didn’t look like he could do a good job in a new position. However, with every game, he has gradually grew into the position and looked extremely solid and effective playing in front of the defence.
Much credit has to go his way. Spurs assured defensive form is illustrated through the fact that only Manchester City have conceded less goals (2) than Tottenham (4) this season. On an individual level, his stats are impressive. The Englishman averages 4.3 tackles and 1.7 interceptions every 90 minutes.
Spurs have been missing such a figure since Sandro sustained injury back in 2013. The club has needed a natural holder in the midfield for a while now. Players like Stambouli and Paulinho came with much hope, but neither could make an effective mark at proceedings at the club. Even though the season is basically 6 games old, Dier has done everything that has been asked of him thus far.
The worry for the player however is that he risks becoming a jack of all trades, the same risk Emre Can of Liverpool and Germany is also facing. Last season, Dier played as one of the team’s center-backs alongside Belgian Jan Vertonghen. The arrival of Alderweireld from Atletico Madrid meant that Dier was always going to be pushed down the pecking order. Dier played as right-back towards the end of the season with Kyle Walker suffering from injury. And now, the “utility player” is being operated as a defensive midfielder. Does he, therefore, risk not excelling in one department?
Or will this only aid and abet his development further like Pochettino said?
“When you play in different positions you add to your game and so gain better tools to be a better player,” said the Argentinean.
Eric Dier currently brings a lot of aggression to the team, something which has been lacking in the Spurs team for a very long time. This aggression is of course very beneficial for the team. After a long time, you don’t see opponents brushing the midfield aside and darting towards Spurs’ first third. He is seen constantly involving himself in duels and can be seen trying to win the ball back. This kind of robust presence is required in the side and the central defender pairing of Vertonghen and Alderweireld is also much more composed and assured at the back.
Tottenham’s form is continuing to improve and a major reason for this is because of Dier and his use as a defensive midfielder.
In the immediate future, Dier looks set to continue in this role because there seems to be no better alternative within the ranks. But more importantly, the Englishman has done really well so far and there is no reason to drop him. And why will Spurs, when he is contributing so much to the team’s success?