Over the weekend, Tottenham Hotspur were linked with a move for Norwich City right-back Max Aarons.
According to the Sunday Mirror (24/01, page 71), Spurs are keeping tabs on the England U21 international ahead of a potential bid while the Canaries currently value him at £20m.
Chief scout Steve Hitchen has been attending the Championship outfit’s matches in recent weeks, mainly to monitor the progress of on-loan midfielder Oliver Skipp but with Aarons regularly starting, he’s been getting a glimpse of him too.
In the 21-year-old emerging prospect, Spurs could find their next Danny Rose.
He may not be a left-back by trade, but the full-back position is very much the same craft whatever flank you’re on and the forgotten Spurs star is the embodiment to why an investment now could pay later dividends, as it did with Rose.
Before his acrimonious fallout in north London, Rose had become the long-standing option on the left of the Spurs defence. Indeed, he’s racked up 214 appearances since joining the club from Leeds United for just £1m in 2007.
Had that move been in this day and age, given he’d have been a young English talent, then Rose may have cost nearer to the £20m the Canaries are demanding for Aarons.
Just 17 at the time, Rose had to wait until the 2013/14 campaign to finally breakthrough into the first-team, and after four loan spells away, he featured in more than 25 league games for the first time that season, per Transfermarkt.
Aarons is still raw but unlike the 30-year-old, he would come with experience of playing in the top-flight as he was Norwich’s first-choice right-back and he still is, following their relegation to the Championship.
And like Rose, he’s an attack-minded full-back, which should be right up Jose Mourinho’s street.
Per WhoScored, Aarons has averaged 1.4 key passes, 1.2 dribbles and 0.8 crosses per game in comparison to only one interception and 0.7 tackles per match – which shows he likes to bomb on to be a creative source for Daniel Farke’s side.
One of Rose’s best-ever campaigns came in 2016/17, where he finished the season ranked third for average rating (7.42) behind Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen as he contributed towards four goals and averaged 1.4 key passes, 1.4 dribbles and 0.8 crosses per game.
That’s practically almost a carbon-copy of Aarons’ returns this season, aside from the goals.
The 5 foot 10 dynamo was dubbed a “special player” with an “unbelievable future” by Farke only last month, while his youth coach Darren Huckerby believes Aarons looks “like he’d been playing there forever” but is someone who “can get better,” as he told The Athletic.
Which is why Daniel Levy ought to make the swoop sooner rather than later. Aarons doesn’t need to be in the Spurs’ first-team set-up right away, especially as there’s already Serge Aurier and Matt Doherty, but in a season or two, it could be his position to lose.
Just like they did with Rose, perhaps purchasing Aarons now and sending him back to Norwich is one way to go about it. Former Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson certainly thinks so, he told Football Insider:
“Tottenham have always signed young players with great potential,” and added: “He could be signed and loaned back out as a potential one for the future. Spurs have done that type of deal in the past and they are likely to again. Daniel likes doing deals like that.”
Considering Man City splashed out £50m on Kyle Walker and that Man Utd paid a similar outlay on Aaron Wan-Bissaka, nabbing Aarons for a fraction of the price at this point could prove to be a masterstroke.
As evident above, the £18m-rated gem has the potential to become Spurs’ next Rose for many years to come.