Tottenham could be looking at converting the young centre-back into a defensive midfielder in time for the new season.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been okaying plenty of midfield departures from his Spurs squad this summer, and though many supporters were surely expecting the club to make a signing to make up for the several players that have left White Hart Lane, recent behind closed-door friendly fixtures suggest the Argentine may be trying something a little more left field.
Because in the recent 2-1 win over Brentford, and also reportedly in the victory over Reading as well, Eric Dier seemed to feature in a defensive midfield role for Tottenham.
As pointed out by Spurs fan site Cartilage Free Captain last week, in the match report from the game against the Bees, the Tottenham website made it clear that there were two different defensive line-ups, neither of which included Dier: " [Toby] Alderweireld started the game alongside fellow new boys Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier, with Danny Rose completing the back four."
The Spurs report went on to mention changes at half time as thus: "We made wholesale changes at the break with Kyle Walker, Federico Fazio, Jan Vertonghen and Ben Davies comprising the back four and Tom Carroll, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli occupying the attacking midfield roles."
But the match report on the Brentford website stated that Dier came on at half time alongside the likes of Vertonghen and Walker: "The home side introduced Dele Alli, Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembélé and Eric Dier among others at the break and as the half wore on they got in to their stride."
As there was no mention of Dier in either back four on the Spurs site, the conclusion is that he must have played in midfield, no surprise considering the absence of naturally defensive players for that role. The 21-year-old did feature in defensive midfield for Sporting while he was in Portugal, and has also played plenty of games at fullback over the last year, although he was much more well known as a centre back when Tottenham signed him.
Given his comfort on the ball, long range passing/crossing skill, and ability to push forward when needed, Dier certainly in theory sounds like he could play in the middle of the park, though that same case could be made about both Belgian defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, and even Vlad Chiriches.
But if Jan and Toby are the first choice defenders Pochettino wants to go with next season, and he is willing to try the youngest first-team defender in a different role to see how he takes to it, there is an element of sense there.
Another way of looking at the detective work exists though, as it is also just proof that Spurs need to make the signing of a defensive midfield a major priority before the season starts unless Dier has been starring in that position in training.
Either way, it is likely Pochettino will let the cat out of the bag so to speak in the upcoming matches in the US, starting with the game against MLS All-Stars next Wednesday.
*Article edited due to inaccuracies*