Who is Kieran Trippier's ideal Spurs replacement?
Background photo: Forthevline, CC-BY-SA 3.0
Kieran Trippier said he didn’t think twice about leaving Tottenham Hotspur for Atletico Madrid. Offended Spurs fans should ask whether the club thought twice about letting him go? Probably not. Time to follow Trippier's lead and move on.
Spurs are developing a habit of selling off wingbacks. In 2017/18 the Lilywhites sold Kyle Walker directly to Premier League rivals Manchester City for £45 million. By comparison, Trippier’s £20 million transfer to the Spanish capital is a bargain. His form slumped drastically last season after a stellar World Cup outing. Atleti are banking that injuries and a short summer had a lot to do with that.
Trippier’s departure to a club where no Englishman has featured in 95 years makes one thing clear. Spurs need cover on the defensive side of the right flank.
Spurs aren't a club that necessarily uses the market to replace a proven player with another. Trippier was in-house when Walker was sold. Daniel Levy didn't shop for replacements for Gareth Bale or Luka Modric either. Not for Robbie Keane, nor Dimitar Berbatov. Instead, the club spent £8.5 million on right-winger Jack Clarke then lent the teenager back to Leeds for the 2019/20 campaign. Tottenham develops players.
If you're a supporter frustrated after 517 days without spending a dime on new signings, you'll be wondering why the club spent millions in a needed area on a teenager who can’t help the team just yet? Yes, they shelled out £60 million for midfielder Tanguy Ndombele but Spurs are stacked in the middle of the park already.
Meanwhile, Serge Aurier and Danny Rose are being marketed to clubs around Europe. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be playing football at White Hart Lane next season.
The question is, who fits the bill for Spurs at right-back? Mauricio Pochettino will be seeking a player who can match Trippier's 2018 output. A tough defender, with the guile to hurtle up and down the flanks, whip in deadly crosses and defend excellently. If he can put a dead ball past the keeper, that wouldn't hurt either.
The aforementioned qualities aren’t a rarity in Europe. Here’s a look at three possibilities.
This one is a leap of faith but if Spurs can sign Dani Alves, the Brazilian would be the perfect stop-gap.
Yes, Alves is old. At 36, most stars are trading their boots for a microphone. Warhorses like Alves and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the exceptions to the rule. The former Juventus right-back managed seven Ligue 1 assists last term for Paris Saint-Germain and captained Brazil to the Copa America title in club teammate Neymar's absence. Despite his age, he was instrumental in securing silverware at the club and international levels.
His contract with the French Champions is up; Spurs can get him for free. While that sounds enticing, his wage bill might not. Even so, Tottenham won’t find a more experienced and skilled right-back than Alves in the market. If Barcelona and Arsenal look elsewhere and he decides not to return to Brazil, Spurs could be in like flint.
Manchester United new boy Aaron Wan-Bissaka was brilliant for Crystal Palace in 2018/19 but he’s not as attentive or impressive as Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira. Just 25, he’s blessed with raw pace and knows how to do the dirty work at the back. The Portuguese fullback potted two league goals and six assists last season for the Foxes.
The problem? If there's a Premier League club as difficult to do business with as Tottenham, it's Leicester. Look at how Manchester United struggle to pry Harry Maguire loose from the King Power Stadium. It took Manchester City more than a year to land Riyad Mahrez. Worse, Brendan Rodgers hopes for a top-six finish in his first full season will be out the window when Pereira exits through the door.
On the plus side, it will be easy to agree terms for the player if Daniel Levy is willing to meet Leicester's £25 million asking price. Champions League football attracts players like moths to flames. Unfortunately, Levy isn't one to part with the club's money so easily, especially when there is an option already on the books.
Trippier waited two years to step into the starting XI after arriving from Burnley. Kyle Walker-Peters has waited that long for his opportunity. The question is whether he's ready to take the chance Mauricio Pochettino gives him?
At 22, he's even greener than Trippier and Walker were when they stepped into the role. Regardless, KWP has what it takes to be a top defender. He started four of the six league games he played last season and chipped in with three assists in that limited window. Does he just need a regular run in the squad?
Spurs are good at looking inward. Walker-Peters is counting on it.