Why Tottenham’s midfield crisis now looks a lot less concerning

Tottenham WHL

The emergence of Dele Alli and a new role for Eric Dier has provided ample options for Spurs.

When identifying problem areas within the Tottenham Hotspur team ahead of the new season it’s fair to say central midfield ranked highly.

Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason, for all their qualities, remain an inexperienced duo and don’t necessarily compliment each other perfectly – with neither player naturally defensive-minded.

In fairness to both, their dip in form came largely as a result of burnout, as Mauricio Pochettino felt unable to trust his plethora of alternative midfield options.

Several names have been linked to the Lane over the last few months - from the sensible (James McCarthy in the Daily Mirror), to the left-field (Gianelli Imbula in the Metro), to the ambitious (Morgan Schneiderlin in the Express) – but with the Premier League opener just four days away, no one appears to be nearing a switch.

It needn’t be a cause for concern for Spurs fans, however, with a mix of tactics and fortune leaving Spurs with more midfield options than is apparent at first glance.

Eric Dier has been deployed in a holding midfield role throughout pre-season, and Pochettino clearly feels 21-year old can adapt to his new position.

The Sporting Lisbon academy graduate is comfortable in possession and provides the biggest physical presence of any Spurs midfielder.

His background also means he brings a true defensive mindset to the centre of the pitch and he's not sluggish either, with a report in the Daily Mail naming him as Tottenham’s speediest player earlier this year.

The other saving grace for the Lilywhites is Dele Alli’s rise to prominence - seemingly coming way ahead of schedule.

The 19-year old was touted for either a loan move or a bit-part role in his first season at Spurs, but has forced himself into first-team contention with several eye-catching displays in pre-season.

He plays with an elegance and confidence belying his age, demonstrated beautifully by this moment from the club’s friendly with Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Paulinho was billed as a box to box midfielder (a footballing fallacy if ever there was one)  but in Dele Alli, Spurs have the real deal - a player capable of spraying passes, making lung-bursting runs and scoring goals.

Add to those four, Mousa Dembele - who is likely to operate further up the pitch next season but can comfortably drop deeper - and Tom Carroll, who hardly looks a world-beater but can certainly do a job - and Spurs' options don't look so limited.

Beyond that, Toby Alderweireld is an effective option in midfield and young Harry Winks is another academy graduate in and around the first-team.

Pochettino's observations on the likes of Alli, Dier, Carroll and Winks on the training ground probably explains the lack of urgency on the transfer front as far as central midfielders go.

Spurs look in good hands, in that department, and must now focus all energy on their most critical of issues - support for Harry Kane.

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