Spurs' defence has looked increasingly suspect this season, meaning Daniel Levy could be forced to dust off the chequebook.
It’s all too easy to dice up Tottenham Hotspur’s collective failure into precise fragments. A shadow of their hard-running, high-pressing former selves, Spurs’ season-stalling run of just one win in ten games in all competitions has been frequently blamed on one particular department of this under-performing unit; the attack.
Harry Kane’s injuries, Vincent Janssen’s profligacy, Christian Eriksen’s decline, Dele Alli’s weariness, Heung-Min Son’s inconsistency, Moussa Sissoko’s total lack of ability; each of these factors cannot be understated. But, on the flipside, is there an argument to be had that each of the aforementioned have become easy scapegoats, so much so that they are diverting the attention away from an underlying issue running beneath the surface.
The facts are simple; Tottenham possessed the most watertight defence in the Premier League last season. Now, it’s looking more porous by the game. Victor Moses sauntering unmarked to net the winner against Chelsea, Thomas Lemar doing the same for Monaco, Michail Antonio profiting on the goal line for West Ham; individual and collective mistakes have undermined Spurs throughout their barren run, with Kevin Wimmer’s spatial awareness proving alarmingly fallible and Eric Dier (below) looking every bit a man who has played in an entirely different position for over a year.
Not that the absence of Toby Alderweireld, the top flight’s most consistently impressive defender in 2015/16, is Pochettino’s fault. But, on the upside, the tactician has the ideal opportunity to rectify Spurs’ summer window failings in the January sales. A 32-year-old Argentine centre-half on a nominal fee may not be the big name many Spurs fans are clamouring for, but Pochettino has based his reputation, and his teams, on astute, bargain buys.
Gonzalo Rodriguez has been one of the best defenders in Serie A for many a year, the talisman and leader of a Fiorentina team who have frequently competed among the big boys both domestically and on the continent via the Europa League. A solid, rugged centre-half, but not quite the Argentinian epitome of cynical lunges and Achilles kicks.
Rodriguez, who has spent the last eight years with Fiorentina, is a competent passer, someone who can play out from the back and flit comfortably between a three and four man backline; something Pochettino has been experimenting with two mixed results of late. And, with his contract running out in the summer, he would be available for next to nothing.
According to Football Italia, negotiations over a new deal have broken down with La Viola and, although he claims his client would prefer to stay in the picturebook surrounds of Florence, the prospect of a new challenge at the age of 32 could prove tempting indeed.