Jose Mourinho and Tottenham are an odd marriage of convenience and when the Portuguese was appointed, there weren’t too many areas of the squad he inherited which looked to suit his demands.
But taking over the experienced Belgian central defensive duo of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderwiereld appeared perfect for Mourinho on paper.
In an era where managers and clubs are increasingly purchasing players on the basis of potential, Mourinho remains focused on the here and now; willing to use players in their 30s, with little regard for what happens once his generally short reign is over.
Morevover, Eric Dier looked perfectly suited to a role as a Mourinho holding midfielder, despite being removed in the first half of the 4-2 Champions League win over Olympiakos for tactical reasons.
Yet, following lockdown, Mourinho has fielded Dier as a central defender, seemingly looking to more away from the Alderweireld-Vertonghen axis.
Due to the factors mentioned above, that is a surprise, but Dier has performed well at the back for Spurs since the restart.
Those performances should see Dier move closer to an extended deal in north London and may also resurrect his international career with England.
Dier’s last international appearance was in June 2019 and he looked to have slipped behind Declan Rice and Harry Winks in the defensive midfield pecking order, with Jordan Henderson anchoring ahead of him at the World Cup.
But the Three Lions are relatively short on central defenders. Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire likely sit in pole position, but the former is untried at international level while question marks persist over the world’s most expensive defender.
John Stones can’t find form or fitness, while Tyrone Mings’ international hopes would likely be hit hard if Aston Villa are relegated.
If Dier’s club future is at the heart of defence, that could be music to Gareth Southgate’s ears, saving the 26-year-old’s England career.