Is Eric Dier Slowly Going Backwards For Spurs?
In the past few years things have changed dramatically in North London, as we are now enjoying much better fortunes than our historic rivals down the road. With a quota of developing stars and a top-class manager, as well as a new stadium on the way, we certainly pushing to break into the 'elite'.
The impressive displays of Dele Alli and Harry Kane continue to catch the eye, with both now established as crucial players within the England ranks as well as with our club, but one name is starting to be forgotten after enjoying a similar rise previously.
Two years ago, at Euro 2016, Eric Dier was one of few positives for a disappointing tournament for the Three Lions and he entered the international competition on the back of a superb season for Spurs. Now, the 24-year-old is more of a squad player than a starter.
Dier may have 22 appearances across all competitions under his belt this season but the former Sporting Lisbon man has struggled to find stability, often playing in the centre of defence, and it`s clear this isn`t the right fit for him.
WhoScored`s average ratings show a poor 6.83 in a defender`s role, compared to 7.24 as a defensive midfielder. Dier certainly benefits from playing in holding midfield, just like he did in the 4-0 drubbing of Everton, but competition with Moussa Dembele and Victor Wanyama is having it`s toll.
As such, after being a starter for England at the European Championships, Dier may just be a member of the squad in the World Cup in Russia later this year. Versatile players like Dier are very useful in modern football but it`s often at the detriment of their own fortunes.
We can find evidence of this further down the road at Arsenal, where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain never quite settled into a specific role and ended up having to leave the Gunners in the past summer. The same situation has occurred with Theo Walcott, who is also poised to leave.
Mauricio Pochettino won`t want that to happen with Dier but it`s certainly a risk. After his meteoric rise, Dier has gone from a first-team starter to a player fighting for opportunities and it`s therefore clear that he`s started to go backwards.
For that to change, Dier may have to take one more step back before launching forward. It`s clear that he`s better in defensive midfield than he is at centre-back, so a frank discussion with Pochettino needs to take place to make it clear that`s where he wants to be playing.
The immediate result would likely be a decrease in action, as he`d compete with Dembele and Wanyama for starting opportunities, but Dier would then be able to show the consistent form that had him turning heads previously.
Having said that, it is difficult for players in a holding role to grab the spotlight and the plaudits in a Spurs side that is so deadly going forward. The talk will almost always be about Kane, Alli or Son Heung-Min, with players like Dier in a less aesthetic role often underrated.
For Dier though, as long as he`s pleasing Pochettino and Gareth Southgate, plaudits shouldn`t matter at all and it may actually be beneficial to us as it would potentially reduce the links to his services- with Manchester United already tipped with a swoop in the previous years.
Keeping the Spurs squad intact is crucial for the club`s development, especially in a year when a stadium move is on the horizon, and Dier will play an integral role in this important transition.