What will 21-year-old Davinson Sanchez bring to Tottenham Hotspur?
Tottenham Hotspur have agreed a club-record fee with Dutch giants Ajax for the transfer of Colombian international defender Davinson Sanchez, subject to a medical and a work permit, according to BBC Sport.
The initial fee is set to be at around £28 million, with £14 million being paid in performance-related bonuses, as The Guardian report.
The 21-year-old was the Amsterdam club’s player of the season last campaign after fine performances both domestically and on the European stage in the Europa League, where they reached their first continental final since 1996, losing to Premier League outfit Manchester United.
Tottenham have endured a testing transfer window having lost Kyle Walker to Manchester City for a £50 million fee. They have since failed to bring in any new players, citing concerns for their depth and putting doubts on their challenge for the title and progress in the Champions League.
Sanchez was also reported, as per the Daily Mail, to be of interest to Barcelona and Inter Milan, but Spurs’ offer is the first concrete one and he is set to complete a move to North London, where he will play alongside two former Ajax defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, as well as Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen.
He was a key asset to the side that made major strides under Peter Bosz, last season. Following the Ajax model, which requires a famous brand of attacking, possession-based football, he was influential in the defensive half of the pitch. Despite standing at six feet, one inch tall, he was a major threat in set-piece situations with his drive and desire causing problems in the opposition box.
That adds to Spurs’ dominance in the box in both halves of the pitch. They were imposing enough with players like the aforementioned Vertonghen and Alderweireld, but with the addition of Sanchez, they are sure to add to their 20 goals from set-pieces from last season.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has a ready-made player in Davinson Sanchez as the Colombian’s traits match his ethos. The defender was one of the best passers in the Eredivisie last season, completing 89% of his passes, and is a key link between defence and attack.
Wide players are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of his arrival, and with Pochettino’s extended use of wing-backs, Tottenham are set to receive an attacking threat from their own back-line. Sanchez is able to switch play quickly, and at Ajax it was the wingers, Amin Younes and Bertrand Traore, who were given more time on the ball and freedom to express themselves out wide, thanks to the quality often displayed by the man at the back.
Perhaps his greatest asset is his strength and speed, which is what has made him such a sought-after figure over the course of the transfer window. He is able to track back quickly if he is beaten for speed and once he does track his man down, he out-muscles them with immense force, shrugging the attacker of the ball fairly and with relative ease.
This was evident in the Europa League final against Manchester United. Marcus Rashford was well clear of him and through on goal, but was interrupted by a chasing, albeit fully-focused, Sanchez.
Davinson Sánchez: Only two players completed more passes in their own half of the pitch than Sánchez in the Eredivisie last season (1154) pic.twitter.com/EgQbkmXaio
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 13, 2017
He is likely to be playing alongside Alderweireld and Vertonghen in a system that proved largely successful for Pochettino. Courtesy of their composure and control in defence, the three together will bring solidity at the back, while offering greater rigidity and speed, which is sure to strengthen the Lilywhite’s game.
Perhaps Sanchez’ biggest criticism is his occasional recklessness. However, that can improve with age and will be aided to by Mauricio Pochettino. He received six yellow cards in the Eredivisie and Europa League last season, mostly for his urgency to rush into tackles, and with the Premier League’s highly volatile refereeing, these sorts of actions won’t go down well with the Tottenham faithful.
It is essential that he maintains his composure when going into the challenge, to avoid spending more time out on the side-lines than his talent deserves.
Another criticism of him could be his failure to cut out well-worked team moves involving several players, which once again, can only get better with age. It is the quick passing moves or the slick skills that catch him out occasionally and either leave him for dead and create a huge gap in defence, or force him in to making a rash, unneeded challenge.
Just recently in a Champions League qualifier against Nice, it was Mario Balotelli who caused him a lot of trouble and helped create several scoring chances for the French side.
Davinson Sánchez for Ajax in 2016/17 Eredivisie:
Most passes (2,270)
Most clearances (167)
Most aerial duels won (76)
Captain Colombia. 💪 pic.twitter.com/3HNQFo3OOI
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 17, 2017
What Tottenham are getting in him is a fantastic centre-half who can last the test of time, considering his tender age. Filled with potential to be the best centre half in the league, they are adding an excellent player to their ranks – one who will certainly boost their chances in the Premier League and the Champions League.
Spurs’ recent signings from Ajax are now crucial members of their squad and they will hope that Davinson Sanchez has an equally huge impact in North London.