Tottenham Hotspur’s defensive frailties were once again exposed on Sunday evening as they were defeated for a second successive time in a week.
Indeed, Jose Mourinho’s men followed up their embarrassment against Liverpool in midweek with a loss at Brighton, meaning their chances of breaking into the top four this season have taken a serious hit.
The 58-year-old tinkered his backline again, snubbing Serge Aurier entirely and axing mainstay Eric Dier, but it failed to pay off. It’s becoming increasingly clear that he doesn’t trust his current defensive options.
And that much can be seen by a recent claim from the Evening Standard’s Dan Kilpatrick, who wrote last week:
‘Mourinho wants his own transformative signing, a defender who could have the same impact on Spurs as Van Dijk at Liverpool or Ruben Dias at Man City.’
Well, if Spurs are going to achieve a signing of that proportion, then they should be looking no further than a player who they have not only been linked with in the past few days but one that has drawn serious comparisons to the Liverpool colossus.
According to BILD’s head of football Christian Falk, Spurs are one of the teams eyeing up a move for RB Leipzig titan Ibrahima Konate, who is said to have a release clause of €40m (£35m).
Mourinho recently blamed Fulham’s late equaliser on Davinson Sanchez and Dier, Alderweireld had been snubbed from four of their last five league games until last night and that display has done himself no favours at all, whilst summer arrival Joe Rodon still “has a lot to learn” and he was at fault when Sadio Mane scored for Liverpool in midweek.
It’s no wonder the Spurs boss seeks that ‘transformative’ central defender and perhaps Konate could be exactly that.
Bundesliga.com likened his playing style to that of Van Dijk, they wrote:
‘Whether it be in terms of positioning, sticking tight to the striker, intercepting passes, tackling or building from the back, Konate cannot just do it all, he makes it look easy. He has the pace to match the quickest of attackers and the physique to bully.’
Upon signing the Frenchman for the Bundesliga outfit, former Leipzig sporting director and head coach Ralf Rangnick lauded him a “highly-gifted player” who is a “top talent.”
At only 21, he has already gone onto prove these words to be true.
During the 2018/19 season, only three other German-based players to start 23 or more matches graded better than Konate (7.19) as per WhoScored ratings, whilst throughout his relatively short career to date, he’s become a rock-solid defender.
On average, the 6 foot 4 centre-back has been a colossal presence in the air, managing 2.9 aerial duels won per 90 minutes, whilst he’s a hard man to bypass having also managed 1.8 tackles per 90 at a success rate of 78%, via WhoScored.
By comparison at Spurs this term, Dier only manages 0.5 tackles per 90, whilst Alderweireld matches Konate’s numbers, which is a good sign towards him being a nice fit for Mourinho’s backline.
Konate is similar in stature to Van Dijk at 6 foot 4 inches and based on the above, there can’t be a more suitable candidate to fulfil Mourinho’s desire for a transformative beast in the heart of his backline.
Daniel Levy must get this deal done, whether that’s now or later in the year.
AND in other news, Forget Eriksen: Spurs need £30m “goal threat” who’s “perfect for Jose”….