With Nuno now at the helm at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Spurs are looking to seal their first signing of the summer in Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu.
The North London club have reportedly opened talks to sign the Japanese international, with the Serie A side wanting at least £17m (€20m) for Tomiyasu (Sky Sports).
Understandably, Spurs supporters might not recognise the name of their new potential signing, with the new managing director of football Fabio Patarici using contacts in Italy to peruse this deal.
Here’s everything you need to know about the defender:
Position: Right-back and centre-back
Career so far: In his youth days, Tomiyasu was recommended for a trial at FC Barcelona Soccer Camp, in which he impressed the coaches and was offered a place on the club’s youth academy. However, the Japanese international declined the offer due to the difficulty in relocating to Spain, leading him to join J1 League side Avispa Fukuoka (Wikipedia)
He spent nine years at the club from 2009 before moving to Belgium in January 2018 to join Sint-Truiden in Belgian First Division A, playing outside of Japan for the first time in his career.
The defender struggled to feature in the second half of 2017/18 season, making just one appearance, but forced his way into the side in his second season at the club and made forty appearances, and as a result, winning the club’s Player of the Year.
His performance saw Serie A side Bologna agreed on a deal to sign Tomiyasu in June 2019, being named man of the match on his debut and later named August’s player of the month as he established himself in the starting eleven (Wikipedia).
Playing Style: He’s regarded as the ‘modern-day’ centre-back that combines a progressive and attractive ball-playing style with some good old ruthless defending.
Standing at 6ft 2in, Tomiyasu is known for his physicality but also his speed, making it difficult for attackers to get behind him, and is the reason why he’s utilised at the right-back and centre-back.
Strengths: Ariel duels, physicality, acceleration and versatility.
Risk: Like any foreign signing, there’s always that risk that the player could struggle to adapt to life in the Premier League and would probably need a good pre-season together with the players.
However, that’s a problem for Spurs and Tomiyasu, with the Japanese international called up to represent the Japan national side in this summers’ Olympics on home soil.
The competition is set to run from 22 July – 7 August, two days before the Premier League season is set to kick-off, meaning Tomiyasu (depending on how far Japan progress) could not meet his new teammates until the end of August.
That could hamper the defender season before he has even kicked a ball in England, with the manager likely to have a set starting eleven and could see Tomiyasu struggle to force his way into the side.
Potential Upsides: While the late arrival could spark a few concerns among Spurs supporters, Tomiyasu has the attributes of slotting into Premier League football straight away. He can be physically strong to go against some of the best attackers in the world while having the speed to maintain the tempo of English football.
Also, his versatility to play in numerous positions across the back-line cannot be underestimated. While the right-back seems the most likely spot for Tomiyasu to contend for, if Spurs switch to a back-three then Tomiyasu has the experience of playing on the right-hand side of a back-three and allows the club to focus on a more expensive signing in the central part.
For the rumoured £17m, signing him could potentially be a bargain if he adapts to English football quickly. Even if he doesn’t end up performing as well as expected, he could be commercially effective for the club. As shown with Heung-Min Son, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the club recoup parts of the transfer fee in the form of shirt sales back in Japan, further adding the club brand in Asia.
How does he compare: With Tomiyasu equally comfortable at right-back or centre-back – both priority positions for Spurs this summer – it’s difficult to pinpoint where the Japanese international could exactly play.
However, if we look at him in the right-back position and his stats from the last campaign, it tells you how Tomiyasu would be an upgrade on what Spurs already have.
As stated above, the defender is extremely confident on one on one duels, according to WhoScored. Per 90 minutes, Tomiyasu was only dribbled past 0.4 times in 31 Serie A appearances. By comparison, Aurier was dribbled past 1.3 times per game and Matt Doherty followed shortly behind with 1.2 per 90.
The Bologna man also made more interceptions per 90 (1.7) compared to the current options at Spurs while he made more clearances (3.3) over the same metric, showing that Tomiyasu would be an upgrade defensively to Aurier and Doherty.
SpursWeb Take: On paper, this looks like the perfect Daniel Levy signing. Relatively cheap, young and potential increase of commercial revenue, it’s understandable to see some supporters disappointed with his signature.
However, the Japanese international does seem to be a significant upgrade on the current options at right-back, specifically defensively, while his versatility could also be important throughout the campaign.
There are definitely risks to his signing, but as long as he not the only new arrival in that back-line, it looks like a deal worth risking.
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