‘I see this in his eyes’ – Antonio Conte lavishes praise on Spurs defender

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Antonio Conte
Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Antonio Conte has praised Eric Dier’s consistency and believes that the Tottenham man is now one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League.

There were question marks over Dier toward the end of Jose Mourinho’s reign at the club, with the England international being guilty of some errors at the back.

However, the 28-year-old has hardly put a foot wrong since Conte arrived at Spurs, establishing himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet under the Italian.

Conte believes that Dier’s value has skyrocketed as a result of the consistency that he is now showing. The Italian also praised the former Sporting Lisbon man for his desire to keep learning and improving.

The Tottenham boss told Football.London: “Now in England, we are talking about the best tournament in the world, the best and most difficult tournament and now Eric is an important level of defenders.

“I think if someone wants to buy him or sign him, you have to put important money for him because I see other defenders and if I try to make comparison, I think you have to put important money if you want to sign him, but Tottenham does not want to sell him.

“I think the big improvement about Eric is that now he is a player who in every game is 100% focused.

“He is a reliable player. He’s not a player that alternates performance. Big performance or sometimes you drop. I think he’s a really reliable player. He’s providing great continuity in his role.

“For me, he’s a really important player. You know, he’s playing every game. I can tell you he’s a really good guy with great will, great desire to work and to improve himself.

“He knows very well he has space for improvement. I see every day in his eyes the desire to become stronger, stronger, stronger. To become a top defender. I see this in his eyes.”

Despite being dominant in the air defensively, Dier has not had as much success as one would expect in the opposition box, with his goals drying up over the last couple of years.

Conte admitted that he wants the centre-back to contribute more goals from set-pieces this season.

The Italian added: “He has to continue with this way, with his attention, with his focus and his desire. For sure in set-pieces, if he scores some goals more, I am more happy.

“I think that maybe a player like him so tall, so strong physically has to be more effective to go on corners and set-pieces to score more goals. I find one more situation for him to try and improve.”

The Daily Mail reported on Thursday that Gareth Southgate has been impressed with Dier’s performances and that the Tottenham man is close to being recalled to the England squad after a two-year absence for this month’s Nations League fixtures.

When asked if the Spurs man deserves a recall to the Three Lions squad, Conte responded: “I did this job with a national team with Italy in the past. I know very well that when you are the coach of the national team it’s difficult.

“Every coach has to do their best, in this case, for the England team. I have great respect for the coach and the decision is in his hands. For sure, what I can tell you is that Eric improved a lot since I arrived.

“For sure we are talking about a reliable player. If he deserves to go or not, it depends on what the coach of the national team, Southgate, thinks. I have too much respect for him to tell something wrong or to try to convince him.”

Spurs Web Opinion

I think Spurs fans who put Dier’s improvement only down to Conte are doing a disservice to the centre-back.

It is worth remembering that he was unbelievably solid alongside an ageing Toby Alderweireld in the first half of the 2020/21 season when we seemed like title contenders.

He did make a few unforced errors in the second half of that season but I felt he got a lot of undeserved blame due to Mourinho’s public complaints about our defence.

Dier was also one of the only players in the Spurs squad (with the exception of Oliver Skipp) who did well in Nuno’s ill-fated four months in charge.

I have always felt that the 28-year-old had all the attributes to be a top-class centre-back and he now finally seems to be showing it.

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