The Cameroon international has signed for QPR on a temporary deal for the 2013-14 season, but does this leave Spurs short at left-back?
Another casualty of the transitional summer at White Hart Lane is Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who will spend the season on loan at Queen’s Park Rangers after falling out of favour in north London. Despite the African defender not being first choice in Andre Villas-Boas’ preferences, does his temporary departure leave Spurs short at left-back?
With Danny Rose starting the first three games of the campaign, it looks like the Leeds United youth graduate will command the left-back spot this term. The former Sunderland loanee has pace to turn and offers an attacking threat overlapping due to his experience as playing as a winger.
However, Rose is still learning the finer defensive details of playing at left-back and as such has looked susceptible to being caught out of position. Despite putting in a competent showing against Arsenal in Sunday’s north London derby, he was caught ball-watching for Olivier Giroud’s decisive goal.
Kyle Naughton can also fill in at left-back and will more than likely get outings in the position in the Europa League. Like Rose, despite having talent, he is not yet the finished article.
Playing young English players instead of a foreigner is certainly a positive thing and both Rose and Naughton have great potential. However, are either currently better players than Assou-Ekotto?
The former Lens defender can certainly blow hot and cold, but has shown tenacity, an impressive work-rate and technical ability on the ball in his seven seasons in England. Currently, when fit, there is an argument that Assou-Ekotto would be a more solid option than either of the youthful alternatives.
With the return to fitness of Younes Kaboul and signing of Vlad Chiriches, Spurs have more options at centre-half and it may well be the Jan Vertonghen is pushed out to left-back as a result. The Belgian is more than capable of playing at full-back and would probably be the most-solid of all the options there, but moving the club’s best defender wide could well weaken the team’s core as a result.
Although Michael Dawson and Kaboul have the physical capabilities to be dominant in the Premier League, Vertonghen has superior footballing skills and adds a touch of class and assurance to the defence.
It remains to be seen who Villas-Boas will play once all his defenders are fit and available, with where Vertonghen should be deployed to get maximum impact from the ex-Ajax star still to be clarified. Putting him out at left-back in important games to cover for Rose’s defensive frailties may not be the correct option, as it could weaken the collective back four as a result. Assou-Ekotto’s motivations and commitment have been questioned in the past, but his ability on the pitch may well be missed as fixtures come thick and fast.
image: © jtadych