Victor Wanyama has had a frustrating season to date. The Kenyan international has developed significantly since moving to Tottenham, but a serious knee injury led to him missing the majority of the first half of the season. The midfielder told the Daily Mail that it was the lowest point of his career:
“This has been a dark time for me. When Tottenham played Real Madrid at Wembley and I had to watch… I wanted to play so badly, it was probably the lowest point of my career.”
It can be difficult to motivate yourself as a player when injured, especially when your team-mates are doing excellently in the Champions League. Wanyama would have been in the stands watching as Spurs beat Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid to top their group.
The road to recovery has been a long one and, at the time of writing, he is still on the fringes of the first-team as he steps up his recovery. Wanyama has played 11 times in the Premier League, but only three of those have been as a starter. Mauricio Pochettino is known for being careful with players returning from injury and the gradual easing in of the Kenyan shows that.
However, his performance against Bournemouth was his best since his return and it indicated that he is ready for more starts in the near future. He dominated the middle of the park with his power and athleticism, as shown by his six successful tackles during the match. Further to this, he made two interceptions and proved why he is considered one of the best ball-winning midfielders in the league when fully-fit.
Wanyama is more than a pure ball-winner though, as he has proven himself an asset in transition. Tottenham rely on their central midfielders to carry the ball forward into the attacking half after winning the ball as it sets up their attack nicely and allows them to stretch the opposition defence. On Sunday, he completed three dribbles and showed good decision making on the ball.
Before joining Tottenham, it was thought that Wanyama was poor in possession, but he has worked on that side of the game and he is now effective when distributing the ball. He finished the match at the Vitality Stadium with a pass success rate of 85%. Although he didn’t make any key passes, his creativity isn’t why he is in the team. His role is to win the ball, bring it out of defence and give it to one of the attack-minded players. That role was carried out perfectly at Bournemouth.
Eric Dier has been his ever-consistent self this season and has done well in midfield in the absence of Wanyama, but Tottenham look a better team when the latter is in the starting eleven. He is more dynamic and a much better ball-winner, while he can quickly turn defence to attack. At times, the former can struggle to impose himself on games.
A quick comparison between the two highlights this, as Wanyama averages 3.27 ball recoveries per ninety minutes as opposed to Dier’s 2.7. Meanwhile, the Kenyan has a pass completion rate of 88%, which is slightly higher than his teammate, with 86%.
Considering Dier has had a lot more game-time this season, his stats are likely to be reflective of his ability. On the other hand, Wanyama has been building his match fitness levels up during this period. His ball recoveries per ninety minutes are likely to increase with more starts.
Pochettino is a manager that looks to rotate and there will be opportunities for both players. The return to form of Wanyama could even see the Argentine move back to a 3-4-2-1 formation with Dier going to centre-back. There are options to be more flexible, which wasn’t the case when the midfielder was out injured at the same time as Toby Alderweireld.
Although Tottenham are out of the Champion League, they still have a lot to play for. Pochettino will want to finish in second, while the opportunity to win the FA Cup should be taken seriously as this group of players has yet to lift a trophy.
Heading into the run-in, they need to play their best players in each position and this past weekend showed that Wanyama is one of those.
Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Is Juan Foyth a ready-made replacement for Toby Alderweireld?
The Argentine youngster joined Tottenham Hotspur from Estudiantes last summer.
According to reports in Belgium this week, Tottenham Hotspur have given up hope of keeping Toby Alderweireld.
HLN has reported Spurs have accepted defeat in trying to convince the Belgian of signing a new deal after failing to agree on wages.
Therefore, Tottenham will sell the 29-year-old this summer, with £43 million the asking price.
Tottenham could be looking for a new signing in the summer to replace him, but rather than spending big on a new recruit, they should instead give a chance to someone already at the club.
The player in question is Argentine defender Juan Foyth.
Spurs brought in the young defender from Estudiantes last summer for a fee reported to be in the region of £10 million by ESPN.
His signature was heralded as a success for the London outfit after the Times had reported PSG had instead got the youngster.
Foyth has played just eight times for Tottenham this season, with none of those appearances coming in the Premier League.
But at just 20-years-old and new to English football, that was to be expected.
Mauricio Pochettino is known to be a huge fan of his countryman and Foyth has impressed in the FA Cup this season.
As a ball playing centre-half he is the type of player Tottenham want at the back to take the team into the future.
With Alderweireld gone, Tottenham will be short a defensive option.
Jan Vertonghen will be the pillar in the centre of defence, with Davinson Sanchez an impressive talent alongside him.
Eric Dier’s versatility makes him an option. Foyth would then argue the case that he is next in line and deserves a shot at establishing himself in the Tottenham first-team.
It is certainly a possibility.
Tottenham also have highly-rated American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers out on loan at Ipswich Town, who could take Foyth’s place as fifth-in-line, if Tottenham give the Argentine his chance.
The likelihood is that Spurs will bring in a new recruit to replace Alderweireld. Perhaps a player with more experience will instead be pursued.
Foyth has not yet proved himself in the Premier League, so laying it on the line for him next season would be a massive risk by Pochettino and Tottenham.
But there is certainly a chance that the £10 million youngster could take Alderweireld’s place next season.
Clement Lenglet is the perfect replacement for Toby Alderweireld
The French defender has been in fine form for Sevilla.
When Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla last week, plenty of the La Liga side’s players put in heroic displays.
Wissam Ben Yedder, the goalscorer of both Sevilla’s goals on the night received the highest praise. However, it was defender Clement Lenglet who deserved the biggest plaudits.
The 22-year-old did a wonderful job of shackling Romelu Lukaku for most of the game, putting in a brave and assured performance at centre-back.
It was a display that undoubtedly won him some fans, and Tottenham Hotspur should be one of them.
It looks increasingly likely that Tottenham will lose Toby Alderweireld in the summer.
HLN in Belgium reported this week that Spurs have ended contract talks with the Belgian and are prepared to sell him for £43 million.
Tottenham, therefore, have a potential gap in the centre-back position.
Lenglet is the perfect option. Not only is he good enough, as he proved by United last week, but he fits the profile of a Tottenham signing.
The Sevilla defender is just 22 years of age and has years ahead of him to develop. Then, there is his release clause.
According to a recent report from Diario AS, the Frenchman has a release clause of just €30 million (£26.2 million).
Such a fee for a player of his talent and his age would amount to daylight robbery.
Lenglet, who only joined Sevilla from Nancy last summer, would be the perfect option for Spurs to replace Alderweireld.
He could rotate with fellow young talent Davinson Sanchez playing alongside the more experienced Jan Vertonghen in defence.
With a Frenchman behind him in Hugo Lloris and French speaker in Vertonghen, he would not have to worry much about the language barrier just yet.
Strong, fast, capable on the ball and a raw talent he is exactly the sort of player Mauricio Pochettino could mould into a future Tottenham star.
Alderweireld’s exit will no doubt be a shame for Tottenham.
Nonetheless, if they can bring in Lenglet for £17 million less than they sell the Belgian for, the club will have pulled off a masterstroke.
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