Last week, Tottenham wrapped up a £3.5million deal for Burnley defender Kieran Trippier, so what should Lilywhites fans expect from their club’s latest signing next season?
First and foremost, the 24-year-old is (at the very least) a Premier League-standard right-back. With the exception of Danny Ings he was Burnley’s most important player and their most dependable attacking threat last season, creating the most chances per match, 1.7, and claiming the joint-most assists of any player in the Turf Moor squad.
And whilst many Clarets stars will now be compelled to continuing their careers in the Championship, Trippier has already proved himself too almighty for that level, claiming 25 assists from 86 appearances during his ultimate two campaigns in the second tier to earn consecutive spots in the PFA Team of the Season.
Trippier wouldn’t look out of place in a solid mid-table side – a West Ham or Stoke City – but whether the former England U21 can up his game to the top four-contending levels Spurs need still remains to be seen.
Trippier probably lacks the natural athleticism to be considered a true ‘false full-back’ of the in-vogue Dani Alves mould, but he’s a regular contributor at both ends of the pitch and the coaching of attritional enthusiast Sean Dyche has left him with a strong all-round game.
The former Manchester City academy product was as much a midfielder as he was a full-back in his younger years and he still carries that attacking mentality today; as aforementioned, he’s been Burnley’s most consistent creator for three straight seasons, amassing an emphatic haul of set ups, and will want to continue influencing in that manner at White Hart Lane.
But no footballer can survive three years under Sean Dyche without learning a thing or two about the uglier side of the game. Trippier is by no means an outstanding defender and the Clarets’ starting XI was often set up to compensate for that – regular right-side accomplice George Boyd averaged an incredible 3.3 tackles per match last season – yet that tenacious, hardworking and organised mantra which almost saw the Turf Moor outfit stave off relegation is deeply ingrained within him.
That will be of particular importance to Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, following a campaign in which the industry, commitment and passion of Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane prevailed over the north London outfit’s more recognised names.
Perhaps the most obvious difference between Trippier and Tottenham’s current right-back options is, once again, his athletic limits. Kyle Walker and DeAndre Yedlin are renowned for their explosive pace but the former Burnley man doesn’t offer that same kind of penetrative threat or recovery speed.
Technically, however, the 24 year-old is much stronger. Whilst Walker’s lack of end product has stopped him becoming the top-class right-back once heralded and Yedlin is shackled by the inevitable inconsistencies of youth, Trippier is a set piece specialist and an expert in the dying art of crossing.
Indeed, he averaged the most accurate crosses per match of any Premier League player last season – a whopping 2.4 – and that impressive return could increase further at White Hart Lane, given that Spurs will expect to spend far more time in the attacking third next season than Burnley did last year. Rather than supplying copious crosses from deep positions as Burnley struggled to break through defences, Tottenham’s ability to control territory for large periods should allow Trippier to get to the byline more often – which in turn should lead to deadlier deliveries.
Harry Kane gave brief glimpses of his capabilities in the air last season, netting five headers in the Premier League and a particularly incredible one against Arsenal, so Pochettino will be hoping the English duo can find a way of combining regularly.
Although I have high hopes for Trippier in north London, it may take him a while to settle. After all, he’s spent the last four seasons as part of a Burnley outfit who learned to win games practically without the ball. Even during their 2013/14 promotion campaign in the Championship, the Clarets averaged just 48.7% possession per match – ranking them 18th throughout the entire division. Tottenham, on the other hand, came third in the Premier League last season with 56.8% per match.
In addition to the ever-problematic relocation to London – professionally, Trippier has never ventured lower south than Yorkshire – adapting to a less direct style of play is the greatest challenge the defender faces. His pass completion rate was just 60% last season whilst he recorded 5.7 long balls per match – the most of any Burnley player. In comparison, Roberto Soldado’s 74.6% pass completion was the lowest return in Spurs’ squad, whilst Etienne Capoue was the only outfield player to record more long balls per-match, with the rest of the team under 4.3.
Trippier is certainly capable of playing a more cautious game as a technical, attacking right-back. No doubt, much of his aforementioned stats were due to Sean Dyche’s philosophy. But how long it takes the defender to change his mindset, curbing his initial hoof-ball instincts, could have a pivotal influence on whether he’s viewed as a success story or a flop at White Hart Lane. Either way, Spurs fans should expect a few teething pains.