The impact a new centre-back can have on a team’s progression is not to be underestimated. Take for example Virgil Van Dijk’s arrival at Liverpool FC; propelling them to Champions League glory and not to mention a first ever Premier League trophy. Similar rewards were reaped on the blue side of Manchester, with the winter signing of Aymeric Laporte helping spur City to a record-breaking 100 point campaign.
After consistent tinkering of his back-line, it is reasonable to believe Jose Mourinho will be dreaming of capturing a player of kindred talents to provoke a similar effect at Spurs. The Special One has still not settled upon his first-choice centre-back pairing. Eric Dier has only missed one Premier League game this season, yet costly mistakes in big games continue to frustrate the Spurs faithful. Davinson Sanchez possesses the strength and pace that Mourinho demands in order to play a higher line, however his lack of guile on the ball has limited his chances in the side. With the 31-year-old Toby Alderweireld linked to a summer exit and promising youngsters Joe Rodon and Japhet Tanganga still learning their craft, Tottenham’s necessity for a leader at the back has escalated.
It remains to be seen whether Spurs chairman Daniel Levy would sanction a high-profile coup in the January transfer window, however Mourinho will likely be prompting a plan of action behind the scenes. The following are some players that should, and potentially could be on Mourinho’s wish-list in the coming months.
The Dream Options:
One player who has recently gained many admirers is RB Leipzig’s Konate. At just 21-years-old the Parisian-born defender fronts an exciting crop of Bundesliga youngsters, having made 52 first-team performances for Leipzig. Christian Falk recently confirmed that Konate has a £40 million release clause which can be activated in the summer transfer window. Spurs are said to hold interest along with a host of EPL giants such as Manchester United.
The French U21 international cuts an intimidating figure for attackers, standing at 6 foot 3 and weighing over 90 kilograms. His height offers a dangerous attacking threat from set pieces, as well as a commanding presence when defending them. Konate not only excels aerially, but also with the ball at his feet. The youngster is adept at carrying the ball out of defence, combining his power and close-control to draw pressure and create passing lanes for teammates to occupy. These traits will excite Mourinho, as well as the Spurs faithful, should the club look to pursue Konate in the summer.
Perhaps the jewel in Leipzig’s crown, Upamecano has attracted suitors all over Europe with his consistent displays at the top level. Falk claims that the Champions league holders Bayern Munich are leading the race for the Frenchman’s signature, with United, City and Real Madrid waiting in the wings.
Upamecano has notched four goals in his time with Die Roten Bullen, but his main strengths lie in his defensive prowess. Mourinho would be attracted to the 22-year-olds electric pace which would equip Spurs with the means to play a higher defensive line. As well as his impressive power and agility, Upamecano reads the game like a seasoned veteran, meaning he is usually a step ahead of the striker. However, when called upon to defend 1V1 dribbles he is deft, yet aggressive and consequently a pain for any attacker
It is unlikely Upamecano will be playing home games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next season. Although, the prospect of regular game-time and learning under Mourinho could prove to be an enticing prospect for the rising star.
Widely regarded as the greatest centre-back of his generation; Ramos has captained Real Madrid over a hugely successful decade. Five La Ligas, four Champions Leagues, two European Championships and a World Cup title are just some of the accolades the Spanish titan has collected. Ramos would certainly bring a winning mentality to N17.
Having established himself as one of the most prolific goal-scoring centre-backs of all time, Ramos is renowned for his attacking threat at set pieces, as well as recently taking the responsibility of penalties and free-kicks. Defensively, the Spanish captain is the original all-rounder; combining aggressive tackling with pace and technical ability, meaning he is rarely flustered. A Rolls-Royce of a centre-back, Ramos’ passion would complement Mourinho’s ‘do or die’ philosophy.
The Guardian have recently claimed that Ramos is unimpressed with Real Madrid’s new contract offer and could be looking for a change of scenery in the summer window. Liverpool and Manchester United have been left on red alert and you’d think that Levy and co will be eyeing a swoop due to the club’s recent relationship with Real Madrid.
The Realistic Options:
Although he does not quite demand the headlines like the three previous names, Demiral offers a promising option for Spurs. Goal have previously linked the Lilywhites to the 6 foot 3 centre-back, however Juventus were said to be reluctant to part ways with the player. Demiral’s inability to break into the first choice XI of The Old Lady could prove to be a golden opportunity for Spurs to land their man.
At 22-years-old, Demiral will satisfy Levy’s craving for young players with a high sell-on market value. Furthermore, Mourinho will love the pride that the Turk takes in his work; he would rather receive a set of studs to the face than risk conceding. Known for his determination, composure, and tactical assuredness, Demiral would offer a steely yet skilful option for Mourinho’s men.
The temptation of regular first-team football could be enough to convince Demiral to depart Turin.
Another player who Spurs were heavily linked with during the summer window. Fabrizio Romano suggested the clubs could come to an agreement in the January market, although that now looks increasingly unlikely. Mourinho may well bide his time to secure his man this summer.
A commanding leader, Skriniar brings the best out of teammates. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet due to experience of playing as a defensive midfielder. Although, his main fortes lie in his sharp tackling and positional awareness, traits that would bolster Spurs’ defensive ranks.
The rumours of Skriniar’s pending move to North London have grown quiet, as the player has earned more time in an in-form Inter Milan side. However, a transfer should not be ruled out just yet.
Mourinho could be looking to reuse his Real Madrid contacts once again. Brazilian defender Militao has only made a handful of first-team appearances at the Bernabeu and could look to leave the reigning La Liga champions in this window.
Strong, fast, and intelligent, the former Porto man would tick most of Mourinho’s boxes in order to employ his Spurs team in a more aggressive attacking manner. At 23-years-old, Militao represents a player with promising potential who would not cripple the club financially.
Spurs would face stiff competition from Liverpool, with The Express suggesting Jurgen Klopp could look to secure Miltao’s services in the coming days due to the centre-back crisis facing the Reds.