Not content with having four senior centre-halves and two young prospects vying for game time, Spurs have reportedly agreed a fee to sign Villarreal’s Mateo Mussachio.
Whether the Lilywhites land the former Barcelona ‘target’ or not, the ideal incumbents of the two positions at the heart of their defence have long been a matter for impassioned debate.
Here, with reference to their relative performances last season, is how news.bwin.com/en/ see the hierarchy among the four most senior positional practitioners at White Hart Lane.
We’ve also chucked in an analysis of Musacchio’s 2014/15 numbers for good measure…
Statistics courtesy of Squawka.com.
A titan in the Champions League qualification-garnering 2011/12 campaign, the Frenchman’s fragile fitness has not allowed him to return to those heights.
He posted just 13 league showings last term and failed to start consecutive games until March.
As such his inability to perform to a consistently high level is understandable.
While every one of his central-defensive rivals (and Musacchio to boot) averaged 0.13 ‘defensive errors’ an outing in 2013/14, Kaboul perpetrated 0.29 per 90 minutes played.
Despite seven of his total 18 starts last season coming in the Europa League or the Capital One Cup, Spurs lost 33 per cent of the matches in which he featured from the off, as opposed to 23 per cent of the ones he failed to begin.
3. Jan Vertonghen
It’s fascinating that a perusal of the Belgian’s stats runs almost entirely contrary to what one might expect from an Ajax-educated perennial Barcelona ‘shopping list’ resident.
Last season he averaged less successful passes per 90 minutes than any other member of the quartet, also posting a significantly lower mean interceptions (1.89) than next-least sharp Dawson (2.12).
The area in which Vertonghen really shone during what was an underwhelming second season in England, was his one-on-one duels.
Successful in a whopping 73.53 per cent of his aerial face-offs, he won around eight per cent of his total individual battles more than next-best Younes Kaboul.
However, despite his strong showing when it came to getting the better of a single adversary, the former Ajax skipper’s presence was the most detrimental of the quartet to Tottenham’s chances of winning.
The Lilywhites posted victories in 65 per cent of the matches in which he failed to start in all competitions last season, taking the laurels in just 52 per cent of those in which he made the XI.
2. Michael Dawson
Labouring under a meat and two veg reputation, the skipper cannot be faulted for his consistency, knocking his positional rivals into a cocked hat with 32 league appearances in 2013/14 – nine more than next most prolific Vertonghen.
Topping the Tottenhamian centre-half ranks for blocks, clearances and fouls the Englishman has a laudable appetite for the defensive basics.
Timing in tackles is arguably his least impressive suit, with an average of just 1.08 successful robberies an outing last season, yet his leadership would be very difficult to replace if, as reported by Goal.com, he has been told he can leave for QPR or Hull City.
1. Vlad Chiriches
Tottenham won 64 per cent of the games in which the Romanian started during his first campaign in England, losing a mere 18 per cent of the time.
It’s a statistical nugget that puts him streets ahead of his rivals, of whom Dawson’s name on the teamsheet had the next highest correlation with victories (57 per cent of his starts) and defeats avoided (71 per cent).
A reputation as a particularly cultured exponent of the central defender’s art is justified by Chiriches’ pass-completion rate of 89 per cent, which was some six per cent better than any of his competitors last term, despite averaging the quartet’s most passes per 90 minutes.
He also posted the highest mean of interceptions an outing, further enhancing a portrait of a thinking man’s centre-half.
Only in matters aerial is he outstripped by his teammates, with his 46 per cent success rate in airborne duels nigh on 20 per cent less than his colleagues.
New Entry – Mateo Musacchio
The main way in which the Argentine can offer something new to the Spurs defence is in his ability to read the game and make interceptions.
He made more than any other player in La Liga last term and, averaging 3.42 such interventions per 90 minutes in 2014/15, he’ll be ideally suited for the kind of high-pressing Mauricio Pocchettino likes to see from his centre-halves.
However, he could prove vulnerable in mano-a-mano situations having been victorious in less duels than any of his potential White Hart Lane muckers last term.
Triumphant in less than half his aerial battles, a potential pairing with Chircihes could prove particularly hazardous.