Opinion: The five Spurs players with the biggest points to prove against Roma

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

With only one game of Tottenham’s preseason left, here are the five players who I think still have the biggest points to prove in front of Antonio Conte in the team’s match against Roma. 

Amidst a gruelling pre-season under Conte, several Tottenham players have uncertain futures at the club. Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Sergio Reguilon and Harry Winks were left out of pre-season, but several others have a chance to earn Conte’s trust. (Evening Standard).

Bryan Gil

Following a transfer from Spanish side Sevilla last summer, Gil had a tough time adapting to the physicality of the Premier League, but has vowed to improve his conditioning through better habits (AS).

He spent the second half of last season on loan at Valencia after failing to convince Antonio Conte. Reports earlier this summer suggested that the Spanish side were hoping to extend the young winger’s spell at the Mestalla (Mundo Deportivo).

He’s also been linked to Marseille (Fabrizio Romano), Real Sociedad (Golsmedia), and even Sampdoria (Club Doria 46).

Gil is clearly a wanted man, and for good reason. He is clearly a massive talent, but he was not Conte’s purchase as he arrived at the club months before the Italian took over as manager.

One of Conte’s key values is having his players be physically excellent. Physicality is one of Gil’s biggest weaknesses though. Additionally, he likes playing as a touchline left winger, which doesn’t fit into Conte’s system.

If Gil can continue improving in the inverted right-wing position Conte has been playing him at in preseason, Conte may feel it’s worth keeping him around to develop, and improve numbers in the squad with a packed schedule this season.

Pape Matar Sarr

Sarr is in a similar position to Gil as he was bought last summer, before Conte arrived, and spent last season on loan in a foreign league. After a stellar 20/21 season, Sarr found it tough to perform consistently in an FC Metz side that succumbed to relegation last season.

Conte decided to bring Sarr on the team’s preseason tour of South Korea, handing the young midfielder a chance to earn his place in next season’s squad. He featured in both games of the tour, as well as against Rangers in Scotland.

Despite this, a loan is not off the table as Fabrizio Romano has reported that AC Milan hold an interest in taking the Malian on loan this season.

While a loan could provide Sarr with regular game time, his last season at FC Metz showed that loans can sometimes stall a player’s development if the situation isn’t perfect.

Therefore, Conte may decide regular training sessions under his tutelage is the best option for his development. Learning from midfielders like Bissouma, Bentancur, Skipp, and Hojbjerg can do him the world of good.

It’s up to Sarr to cement his spot, and the game against Roma on Saturday provides the perfect stage.

Davinson Sanchez

Sanchez spent a lot of last season riding the bench as Cristian Romero took to the Premier League by storm. A few lengthy injury issues for the Argentine gave Sanchez the chance to impress and he took it, putting in solid performances like his one against Arsenal at home.

While Sanchez put in some good performances and clearly has Conte on his side, the Spurs fans are often not as kind. Many fans have criticized the Colombian for his rashness in the tackle and poor ability on the ball.

Entering his sixth season at the club, Sanchez is still not a nailed-on starter, and with one of Spurs’ top players competing with him for a place, he’ll have to work hard if he is going to break into Conte’s starting eleven.

Matt Doherty

A few weeks ago Talksport reported that Tottenham were open to letting Matt Doherty leave the club this summer.

This contradicts Doherty’s comments earlier this summer when asked whether he expects to stay at the club (Football London): “Of course. I haven’t been told otherwise. My plan is to stay and fight for my place.

“We’ve got an exciting season ahead. Why would I want to go anywhere else?”

During preseason, Doherty has found it difficult to get game time in his preferred right-wing-back role as Emerson Royal, Djed Spence, and even Lucas Moura have deputised there. Instead, he’s played on the left, and has even been left on the bench at times.

The Ireland international earned a starting spot at right wingback last season under Conte, putting in some impressive performances. Unfortunately for him, an injury against Aston Villa ended his season before he was able to cement his starting spot for next season.

A starting spot is there for the taking if Doherty can find some consistency and fitness. He showed last season that he can execute Conte’s principles, and he just needs a chance to prove himself. Hopefully, the game against Roma will be his chance to shine again.

Emerson Royal

While teams like Atletico Madrid (Sky Sports) and Juventus (Rudy Galetti) have reportedly registered interest in Emerson Royal this summer, his agent has said that he is ‘very happy at Tottenham’ (Football London). Despite this a move away this summer can’t be ruled out.

Similar to Matt Doherty, Emerson has stiff competition to earn the starting right wingback role, but it’s not only Conte’s trust that he needs to earn. Many fans have thrown harsh criticism towards Emerson for his struggles in the final third.

Emerson started two out of the three preseason games so far this summer, and therefore has a good chance of getting game time against Roma.

If he does make his way onto the pitch, it’s important he leaves a good account of himself in the minds of Conte and the Spurs faithful before the season begins.

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  1. Davinson Sanchez did well the last few games of last season. However, Romero is in his spot and is not going anywhere. I think Davinson tends to have a stinker when he plays on the left of the back three. I don’t think his passing is up to playing in the centre. Really he should be somewhere he is starting regularly. We did overpay a bit at £42m for him. If we could get £30m, amazing and let’s get another in. Pau Torres would be ideal. With Lenglet on loan, it seems doubtful of any more changing at centre back though.


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