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Spurs could find their own Saliba in Rodon

This time last year, Tottenham were quickly sinking under the management of Nuno Santo.

The Portuguese had won the manager of the month for August at the beginning of the campaign but that’s as good as it got for the former goalkeeper at Spurs.

He looked out of his depth and would eventually be given the boot, with Antonio Conte taking over.

The Italian has been in the dug out for nearly a year now and there is clear improvement. Tottenham’s start to the 2022/23 season is the best they’ve had in a single top-flight term, but they are still below rivals Arsenal.

The Gunners are on a non-stop train to success at the moment and a large part of that has been down to William Saliba.

The young French defender was signed under Unai Emery but would endure three loan spells in his homeland with Saint Etienne, Nice and Marseille.

It was at OM where he was named Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year and his time across the channel has proven game-changing.

The young brute of a centre-back is now one of the first names on the team sheet having matured a great deal out on loan.

The French top-flight appears to be a productive one in terms of loan spells right now, with fellow Arsenal man Folarin Balogun scoring six goals in 11 outings at Reims.

Of course, Saliba wasn’t quite that prolific but he was extraordinarily good from a defensive point of view, having played a combined 50 matches in the top flight over the last two seasons.

Since coming back to London, the 21-year-old has been a breath of fresh air to Mikel Arteta’s defensive ranks with the youngster displaying a remarkable sense of composure and positioning.

He isn’t fazed by anything and is rather happy to just sit there and defend, even if he has already found the net twice.

His monstrous displays in defence would do enough to make any team in the division jealous, but Spurs could well find their own version in Welsh defender Joe Rodon.

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The 24-year-old has barely had a look in since making the move to London from Swansea and has featured on just 24 occasions for the Lilywhites.

Even with the error-stricken Davinson Sanchez in their ranks, he couldn’t earn a place in the team and it seems as though Antonio Conte doesn’t rate him either.

Like Saliba, the young centre-back has been forced out on loan to Ligue 1 this term where he’s completing a season-long temporary spell with Rennes.

With Arsenal’s imperious centre-half we have already seen the benefits of learning your trade and progressing south of the channel, with Spurs potentially hoping they could unearth their own version of the ever-impressive Frenchman.

The one trouble is, that no matter how well Rodon performs this year, Tottenham could lose him.

The terms of the loan stipulate that Rennes have an option to buy of €20m (£17.3m) if they wish to keep him permanently.

Conte is unlikely to mind too much at the moment but if he does begin to develop like the aforementioned Saliba, they may rue selling him for so cheap.

It’s not just that French connection that is similar, however, with Rodon also sitting in the aggressive ball-playing category.

He has completed a whopping 89.2% of his passes across nine Ligue 1 outings this campaign, but also has an element of brute force to his game, winning 2.8 aerial duels per match.

When it comes to composed passing, Saliba is perhaps one of the best around with his completion rate of 92.6% marking him as one of the elite defenders in possession.

Rodon might not be on that level yet but a year in France could do his confidence and development the world of good.

Described as a “perfect” player who “works very hard” by Jose Mourinho, there is no doubting that he’s ready to put in the hard yards to improve.

Should he continue that mantra, he may well live up to John Hartson’s prophecy, with the defender’s countryman suggesting he is a “potential superstar”. Only time will tell in that case.