With Jose Mourinho having transformed Eric Dier into a fully-fledged centre-half under his leadership at Tottenham Hotspur, the Spurs boss now faces the difficult task of building the defence around the England international.
Given the lack of depth, it’s no wonder Dier is one of the first names on the team sheet, having made 27 appearances across all competitions this season, that being the best of all centre-backs and ninth overall, a list topped by none other than Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
It would be remiss to ignore his importance to this Spurs side, which is precisely why Jermaine Jenas has praised his “sensational” impact in his new role for the Lilywhites.
Toby Alderweireld has been the man Mourinho has usually trusted enough to start alongside the 27-year-old at the heart of Spurs’ defence, but in Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar, Daniel Levy could land Dier’s ideal long-term partner.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport’s print edition, as relayed by SempreInter, Milan have named a €60m (£51m) for the centre-back, and the Italian outlet reports Mourinho’s side will have to offer far more than their initial €35m bid last year.
The fact that Inter are apparently unwilling to accept anything less than €60m for one of their key men could prove to be a stumbling block for Spurs, however, as the club reportedly finds itself in financial disarray after borrowing a large sum from the Bank of England.
All we know is, the 6 foot 1 in central defensive colossus has certainly got the ability and profile to form a formidable partnership at the back with Dier, with Skriniar ticking every box.
Mourinho isn’t short of centre-halves but has still rotated Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, Joe Rodon and Japhet Tanganga alongside the softly-spoken Dier with a mixed bag of results.
The latter two are seen as two for the future having impressed when called upon, but the same can’t be said for Sanchez, who has struggled to make much of an impression due to a string of high-profile errors.
Having someone at the back with the kind of leadership Skriniar brings could be exactly what Mourinho needs. His former coaches insist the “talented” player has “always been the leader on and off the pitch.”
By the numbers, the Serbian, who at 26 is one year younger than Dier, has been in impressive form for Antonio Conte’s side, averaging 1.5 tackles and 2.7 clearances per game, via WhoScored. For context, even Dier could only manage 0.7 tackles per 90 in the Premier League this season, as per WhoScored.
While it remains to be seen where the £45m-rated colossus will be plying his trade next term, whoever secures his signature will be very happy indeed, for he’s evidently a player with bags of talent.
Daniel Levy, therefore, must do all he can to bring him to north London before it’s too late. He can’t let lightning strike twice.
AND in other news, Tottenham Hotspur star stole the show in vital Europa League win…