Ange Postecoglou will be crossing his fingers that he has a few more defensive options to choose from for Tottenham’s Premier League opener against Brentford. A priority for the club in the transfer market, Spurs have been linked with a number of centre-backs, including Micky van de Ven and Edmond Tapsoba, but have so far failed to add to their back line.
Last week on the club’s pre-season tour of Australia, the new Spurs manager made it clear that soccer.london that he had quickly identified central defense as an area the club needed to strengthen. He said, “Some of [the areas needing new players] I had identified early. I don’t think it’s any secret about some of the areas we had to strengthen. The goalkeeper was one and the central defense is another.”
Asked if he wanted more centre-back options in the door ahead of the Brentford game, the 57-year-old added: “Yes, I think that’s certainly our intention, absolutely. We’ve been working on it for a while and we’ll certainly try to get it done as soon as possible.”
Having previously operated with a three-man defense and wing-backs during Antonio Conte’s time in charge of the club, the appointment of Postecoglou will see Tottenham shift defensively and return to a back-four. Due to the change in the system, it remains to be seen exactly where Ben Davies will line up for the Lilywhites.
Signed from Swansea City nine years ago and playing as a left-back for the club, the arrival of Conte at the N17 in November 2021 saw Davies switch to the left-sided role in his back three. Having gained experience playing there for Wales, the 30-year-old excelled in the position and became one of the first names on the team sheet under the Italian.
However, there is a difference between playing at centre-back in a back-three compared to the central berths in a back-four, which calls into question Davies’ position in Postecoglou’s Spurs team going forward. The Wales international has extremely little experience playing at centre-back in a back four for Tottenham, with Spurs’ 1-0 win over Burnley in December 2018 his first appearance there.
READ MORE: Van de Ven deal, Kane’s future and transfer exits – What Tottenham must do in the next 19 days
A lack of defensive options due to injury forced Mauricio Pochettino into a reshuffle, resulting in Davies partnering Toby Alderweireld against the Clarets. A completely new role for the player at the time, he stated after the match that he “enjoyed it” and the manager’s trust in him more than helped him succeed there.
“[Burnley] was the first competitive match I’ve started on the right middle neck [in a four-man defence] in my career so it was an adjustment but I enjoyed it,” he explained Evening Standard. “It’s up to the manager whether I do it regularly but he had full confidence in me playing there and that does a lot for your mindset in games.”
Davies played and captained Tottenham in the second half of their pre-season friendly against West Ham at centre-back, and Davies was due to start the friendly at Leicester City in the same role until the weather paid off for the competition in Bangkok. One thing Postecoglou needs at the heart of the defense is balance, something the ex-Swansea City man can provide when left-footed.
Tottenham aren’t exactly blessed when it comes to left-footed defenders at the club at the moment, perhaps giving Davies, who also offers consistency and experience, the edge over his rivals. The possible arrival of Van de Ven from Wolfsburg would give Postecoglou another left-footed defender and could well affect Davies in the process.
The boss also has Davies as an option to play at left-back next season if he so wishes. Destiny Udogie is seen as the future in the position, but the Italian may need an adjustment period to the Premier League unless he follows in the footsteps of Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski and makes an immediate impact in England following his move from Italy.
Amid question marks over what exactly will happen to Sergio Reguilon and Ryan Sessegnon once Postecoglou settles his plans for the new season, Davies could well play at left-back for the time being and ensure Tottenham have the defensive stability rather than the boss going all guns blazing with a very attack-minded starting XI. Postecoglou’s first two picks of pre-season seem to indicate he sees Davies as a centre-back option, although things will become much clearer as the new term gets underway.
If the Welshman is to play in a new role in central defense as part of the back four, he will, as always, grasp the challenge with both hands and do everything in his power to ensure he is successful there. Wherever Davies plays for Postecoglou, the boss will know he can fully count on the long-serving defender.
Which of the following prospects would you like to see in the first team or loaned out for experience? Swipe to have your say…