In the aftermath of Kieran Trippier’s £20million move to Atletico Madrid this week (fee per the Sun), Spurs now find themselves in a bit of a defensive dilemma.
The right-back berth at the club has been shared between numerous names since Kyle Walker left for Manchester City in 2017 and Trippier’s departure may continue the trend with no significant movement being made for a replacement and doubts over the personnel currently at the club.
It comes at a bad time for Spurs with left-back, Danny Rose, also thought to be edging towards an exist after being left off of Spurs’ pre-season tour of Asia to ‘explore opportunities’ with other clubs, but that is a separate issue for another day.
In this article, I’ll list five ways Spurs could potentially fill the void Trippier has left as first-choice right-back and the pros and cons they’d bring with them…
1 – Alessandro Florenzi
Easily the most adept of the players within this list, Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi is a well-rounded, competent full-back capable of offering Spurs exactly what they’d be looking for in terms of quality. Florenzi, who operates as captain for the Roman club, offers a wealth of experience with over 320 career appearances for club and country but there are two issues here that concern me.
The first of which is that despite being deployed as a right-back prominently in recent seasons, he’s not a thorough-bred. Florenzi is a centre-midfielder turned into a full-back who can moonlight at a right-midfielder. If Spurs learned anything from Trippier’s spell, it’s that having respectable attacking talent cannot mask possible defensive ailments and Florenzi’s adaptation to the role isn’t ideal.
The second of which is Toby Alderweireld’s role in a potential deal. It’s no secret that Toby Alderweireld’s future has been a source for debate since his £25m release clause was leaked to the public late last year. Alderweireld’s four-year-contract was extended in December, taking it’s expiration date from summer 2019 to summer 2020, but with a release clause caveat added. The aforementioned release clause is only applicable until July 26th according to the Express, with Roma emerging as a notable name in the pursuit of the Belgian defender as the days tick down in Tottenham’s favour. Florenzi’s links to Spurs come after young midfielder, Nicolo Zaniolo, was also linked and I fear that a deal to bring Florenzi to Spurs will involve the departure of Toby Alderweireld – a trade-off that I don’t see as worth it, regardless of Florenzi’s ability.
2 – Max Aarons
Fitting perfectly into Spurs’ policy of signing young players with enormous potential, Max Aarons has all the signs of becoming a very competent right-back in the future. Aarons won promotion to the Premier League with Norwich City last season and signed a new four-year-contract this week, making Spurs’ pursuit a lot more challenging. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Aarons staying at Norwich could be of benefit to Spurs in the long run.
With Norwich gearing up for their Premier League return and Aarons’ new contract all but confirming he’ll spend the 2019/2020 at Carrow Road, it will give the 19-year-old valuable experience at the top level of English football. This would allow Spurs to assess Aarons from afar and gauge just how good he really is.
If Aarons was to impress, then a move for him in the summer of 2020 could be on the cards, but with the variable of Norwich’s position of power. As with any promoted club, an immediate return to the Championship is often talked about and such a feat could make Spurs’ pursuit for Aarons even likelier. Couple Norwich’s hypothetical relegation and Aarons having a good debut season and Spurs will not only have assurances about the England Under-19’s ability, but will also avoid being held to ransom due to the relegation, with Norwich no longer possessing Premier League pull.
3 – Steven Sessegnon
Without doubt the Joker in the pack, Steven Sessegnon’s arrival at Spurs could be part of a double-swoop that will please the North Londoners on two fronts. Whilst twin brother Ryan has made headlines over the past three seasons since debuting at 16-years-old, it’s been long rumoured that Steven has just as much talent and ability, but has been held back by injury.
Whilst Ryan has been linked heavily with Spurs in light of Danny Rose’s possible departure, Steven has also interested Spurs and a move for the duo has been rumoured, with the two Sessegnon’s futures being intertwined. This would be good news in its own right for Spurs, with Steven’s potential and the lack of a right-back currently at Spurs who has taken the mantle. Steven is however, hideously inexperienced with just four senior appearances, all of them coming in the League Cup, but snapping up Steven alongside Ryan would be a shrewd move going forward in both full-back positions.
4 – Dani Alves
If Steven Sessegnon was the Joker in the pack, Brazil’s Dani Alves is the royal flush that leads you to the spoils. Undoubtedly one of the greatest right-backs to have ever played the game and quite possibly the best of the current generation, the 36-year-old Dani Alves can still go. Proven by his Golden Ball-winning performances as he captained Brazil to the 2019 Copa America, Alves is a free agent after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.
It makes almost too much sense for a club in dire need of a great right-back to go out and snap up a player of Alves’ pedigree on a short-term one-year-deal to tide them over and give them some extra time to seek a long-term alternative. And it’s for that reason why I can’t see it happening. Alves to Spurs would make so much sense that logic would almost defeat itself. It would give Spurs a quality option at right-back, with an embarrassment of experience and success to his name, as Spurs look to take the next step and bring silverware to their new stadium. It’d also allow them another 12 months to scout the market and look for the aforementioned long-term option for the position.
Wages could well be an issue, but the hit you’d take on making Alves one of your higher earners for a year is minimal given what he’d bring to the table. He’s a friend of Lucas Moura and the duo had a brief spell together in Paris, following their experiences together in Brazil squads.
5 – Serge Aurier, Juan Foyth & Kyle Walker-Peters
Last but not least is the conservative option of sticking when twist is appetising. Whilst Spurs do have issues at right-back, it’s not a numerical issue. Spurs do possess 3 players who are capable of playing the position with varying levels of expectation.
Serge Aurier has tremendous ability and for many, is a better player than Kieran Trippier to start with. His move forward into accepting the vacancy himself should be a no-brainer, but no-brainers are also one of the reasons why there are doubts over Aurier. It’s Aurier’s tenacity and penchant for over-exuberance that has cast some doubt over him. His debut 2017/2018 season was marred by rash and avoidable tackles that cost his team crucial penalties when discretion would have been the better part of valour.
An injury-plagued 2018/2019 season didn’t help redeem the wrongdoings of the previous season and as he heads into his third year at Tottenham, it’s crunch time for Aurier if he wants to be the club’s long-term right-back. Aurier is yet to return to pre-season training having represented Ivory Coast at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations where be unfortunately picked up two different injuries that eventually ruled him out of the competition, adding to his woe.
Centre-back by trade, Juan Foyth has become an option at right-back in recent months after a successful stint during the 2019 Copa America with Argentina. Foyth ended the domestic season with appearances at right-back against Ajax, Manchester City and West Ham United, showing some promise, with a continuation through June and July for La Albiceleste. Foyth began the competition on the bench before a start at centre-back against Qatar in Argentina’s final group game. Foyth would remain in the Argentine starting eleven for the next 3 games as he was deployed at right-back for the Quarter-Final, Semi-Final and 3rd-place play-off against Colombia, Brazil and Chile, respectively.
Foyth has a tremendously high ceiling due to his ability on the ball, but a breakthrough at Spurs in the centre-back position looks unlikely with Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez ahead of him in the pecking order and an abandonment of the 3-at-the-back formation. Foyth’s daring turns and dribbles at centre-back gave Spurs fans a glimpse of the 21-year-old’s confidence and an opportunity at right-back could be just what he needs at this stage of his career. He’d receive regular game time, adding another string to his bow as he looks to find a way into the first team. Spurs fans also warmed to the idea of using Foyth as a defensive midfielder last season due to his above average ability on the ball and the freedom he’d have in the centre of the park, as well as Spurs’ pre-Tanguy Ndombele issues in midfield. Foyth’s confidence did however get him into some issues last season with sloppy penalties being conceded as he learns the rigours of the English game.
The final name to be mentioned is that of Kyle Walker-Peters. Whilst his name bares resemblance to a Football Manager regen of his former Tottenham team-mate Kyle Walker, Walker-Peters has struggled to make the most of sporadic opportunities with fluidity being an issue. The 22-year-old had a stop-start 2018/2019 season, not receiving any meaningful minutes until December. After a start in Spurs’ 3-1 League Cup win against West Ham United in October, Walker-Peters had to wait until December for his next start, this time against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. After an early error that lead to Ousmane Dembele giving the Catalans an early lead, Walker-Peters regained his composure and did well against a heavily changed Barcelona side. He’d continue his good performance with a stunning showing in a 5-0 drubbing of Bournemouth on Boxing Day racking up three assists.
But that’s where Walker-Peters season both begun and ended with no degree of consistency to his selections. Starts in the FA Cup were accompanied by substitute minutes and two more Premier League starts, but it wasn’t enough to allow Walker-Peters to show a prolonged level of performance.
In my opinion, given Spurs’ traditionally streamlined budget and financial clout, I’d suggest its likely that Spurs would stick with their current trio of options for the 2019/2020 season. A move for Dani Alves would make so much sense from a logical point of view, but signing ageing players on high wages is far away from Tottenham’s traditional approach. Steven Sessegnon is certainly a possibility if his brother Ryan was to be courted, as is Max Aarons in a year’s time. Florenzi is too good to become all but a pawn in a deal between Roma and Spurs to take Alderweireld to Italy and I struggle to see him being used as such, leaving his captaincy at the club he’s been with since the age of 9, in the process.