Younes Kaboul had already been a sufferer of chronic knee problems before the serious injury that kept him out for most of the 2012-13 season.
Kaboul played one game alongside William Gallas in a 2-1 win against Newcastle United before a training injury put an end to Kaboul’s season. The 27 year old first came to Tottenham during the 2007-08 season after being part of an £8 Million P move from Ligue 1 side Auxerre. He followed Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch to Portsmouth as the club attempted a get-to-Europe quick scheme.
The scheme failed like Malaga and Queen’s Park Rangers and by January of 2010 the Frenchman was back in North London. He quickly became an important part of Harry Redknapp’s squad pairing with Michael Dawson or Ledley King whenever healthy as the club pushed for Champions League football. After Redknapp’s firing, new manager Andre Villas-Boas began the process of scouting his defensive players. For starters, Villas-Boas’ followed the development of Steven Caulker, Michael Dawson, William Gallas, Younes Kaboul, and then Jan Vertonghen.
Villas-Boas has stated in past interviews that he sees a team needing only four center-halves and placed what he believed to be the expendable Michael Dawson on transfer. Tony Pulis’ Stoke City and Mark Hughes’ QPR made attempts to sign the English International but Dawson refused any deal. After Kaboul’s injury, Andre continued to try out pairings involving Steven Caulker, William Gallas, and Jan Vertonghen with Michael Dawson seeing very few minutes. Finally, Gallas’ mounting defensive errors became too apparent to overlook and Dawson was instated as Club Captain and starting Center-half. After the humiliating 5-2 defeat to Arsenal, Tottenham went on a run of good results as they had an unbeaten streak of 13 games allowing 10 goals; the new partnership of Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson solidified what had been a leaky defense.
Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson make a good partnership because of their contrasting styles. Michael Dawson is a classic English defender: he is a good header of the ball, a vocal leader, astounding when intercepting and clearing the ball, is able to keep a high back line, and covers for his partner. Dawson is not without faults as his lack of pace sometimes leaves wanting and is not a spectacular standing tackler.
Jan Vertonghen is a return to the classic libero, a defender who is not afraid to make runs forward. Vertonghen adapted quickly to the English Premier League and opposition’s defenses struggled with his forward play. One of Vertonghen’s standout performances was at left back but the performance still embodied his playing style. Gareth Bale and Vertonghen were able to expose Nani, Rio Ferdinand, and Rafael as Bale and Vertonghen played one-two’s which led to both getting on the score sheet. Vertonghen’s play style is flashy and exhilarating but is also dangerous. Two games come to mind when dissecting Vertonghen’s libero style, the draw against Everton and the stunning loss against Fulham. In both games quick counterattacks exposed Vertonghen’s poor position as Kevin Mirallas burned by Benoit Assou Ekotto who was also out of position and Vertonghen who was caught flat-footed as the speedy Belgian slotted in a goal. During the painfully languid Fulham game, Dimitar Berbatov calmly finished the ball after Vertonghen was caught in the opposition’s half. Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen led Tottenham to their highest ever point total and shored up what had been a porous defense.
Now Younes Kaboul is back, Tottenham’s official social media sites have released images of the Frenchman training with his teammates. Supporters are now clamoring for a “dream” partnership with Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen.
This young pair of central defenders could lead Tottenham’s back line for the next decade. However an issue arises when considering the style of Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul. Both defenders have high attacking work rates like a pair of Pique’s these two central defenders would look to press the ball forward and drive towards the penalty box before laying off a pass or taking a shot for their own. Kaboul and Vertonghen’s penchant for forward runs would leave Tottenham exposed in the back and put added pressure on Sandro and Paulinho to cover for their absent defenders.
During the Confederations Cup final, Brazil punished Spain’s Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos who are both attacking central defenders. With Brazil’s midfield pulling the strings dropping balls behind the pair of Ramos and Pique, this gave the Spanish defender’s fits and even caused Pique’s red card. With Manchester City’s purchase of Jesus Navas, Chelsea’s midfield, Liverpool’s Coutinho this could cause similar problems for a Kaboul and Vertonghen partnership.
When inspecting other libero defenders across Europe it is seen that a defender of a more classic approach is needed. Pique’s torrid season could be traced to the forward thinking Barcelona man’s loss of stalwart Puyol. David Luiz was paired with a more defensive minded Gary Cahill or John Terry. Sergio Ramos linked up with Pepe before the introduction of Raphael Varane.
While Vertonghen and Kaboul form a fast, strong, and attack minded defense the partnership would be horribly exposed by the quick decisive attacks of England’s and Europe’s top clubs.
This pair of liberos coupled with either Benoit Assou Ekotto or winger converted fullback Danny Rose and Kyle Walker leaves Tottenham too exposed to attacks. Either Kaboul or Vertonghen would need to reign in their forward runs for a partnership to work. Otherwise Tottenham could be in for a high-scoring but inconsistent season. An old adage reads “The best defense is a good offense” well this is not true when all the defenders are playing offense.
Have something to tell us about this article?