There can be little doubt that Tottenham are on an upward curve under Mauricio Pochettino. No matter how much progression the Argentine has managed in his debut season in the White Hart Lane dugout though, some things are too ingrained to change overnight.
The north Londoners still defend like they’re playing in a primary school playground, having shipped the most goals of any side in the top 10 and the joint-third most in the division.
It’s clear that Younes Kaboul, originally named Pochettino’s captain, and Vlad Chiriches are not up to scratch in the former Southampton manager’s eyes having started a combined total of one Premier League game in 2015.
Should the pair be moved on this summer, as looks likely, then Pochettino will need another recruit to join Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier and Federico Fazio in the back line.
Having tried and failed to develop rough diamonds in the past, plumping for more revered talent looks to be the new plan, as the club chase versatile Schalke star Benedikt Howedes.
As a World Cup winner with Germany and the Royal Blues’ captain, the 27-year-old holds a considerable standing within the game. The defender would not come cheap, but a rumoured £13m is not an eye-watering amount.
Lacking extreme pace, Howedes would need to be paired with Dier in order to form a complimentary partnership at the Lane. He would likely arrive as an upgrade to Vertonghen, both in style and versatility.
The Haltern native has featured all across the back line for club and country, which fits in with Spurs’ recent preference to buy adaptable defenders and his link with the Lilywhites certainly inspires more confidence than that of recently-rumoured target Kevin Wimmer.
The Austrian has been on Daniel Levy’s radar since the January transfer window, but is far more likely to end up as a failed gamble, a la Chiriches, than the assured and experienced Howedes.
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