A couple of weeks ago, journalist Dan Kilpatrick claimed that Tottenham Hotspur boss, Jose Mourinho wants his own ‘transformative’ Spurs signing who can have the same impact at Spurs as Virgil Van Dijk at Liverpool or Ruben Dias at Man City.
So who could that be?
One option that could become available is RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate. The 21-year-old has a release clause active next summer worth $40 million euros, according to Christian Falk, who also claims Spurs are one of the clubs interested.
Konate stands at 6ft 4, with his height being a very important asset to have as a centre back. This season Konate has won 86% of his aerial duels (SofaScore) which is far better than what we already have, with Eric Dier only winning 50% (SofaScore).
This is clearly a massive improvement, and having someone with this aerial ability is vital considering our terrible defending of crosses and set-pieces this season.
However, Konate is no stranger to an injury. Over the last two season, he has sustained two large injuries, which is something we don’t need.
To get into some more of his impressive statistics, this season he has an 83% accurate pass completion rate per game, he makes 0.8 interceptions per game and 2.1 clearances per game in the Bundesliga (SofaScore).
He is clearly an imposing figure at the back with good technical ability as well, as he has been playing in a fast forward-thinking Julian Nagglesman team that play out from the back very effectively.
Konate also has the ability to dribble out of defence, completing 0.4 dribbles per game this season (SofaScore) with a 100% success rate.
In comparison, Toby Alderweireld only completes 0.1 per game in the Premier League (SofaScore). When pressed, both Toby and Dier have resorted to kicking it long or making risky unsuccessful passes.
However, Konate can use his ball control and pace to stride out from the back through the pressing zone while Hojbjerg moves and covers in the vacated space left behind.
To summarize, Konate would be a very good and affordable option for Spurs with his explosive pace and his aerial ability.
He would slot into our defence very well and make it more versatile with us now being able to play a bit higher up the pitch with his pace and brilliant recovery speed, something Dier and Toby don’t possess.
An aggressive centre back who isn’t shy of a tackle, and with a very impressive stat of 60.3 accurate passes per game with a 92% completion rate (SofaScore).
However, quite a significant weakness is his aerial ability, having only won 43% which is pretty poor (SofaScore).
But, when at his best, he averages 2.4 clearances per game, makes 1.5 tackles per game and registers a couple of goals as well (SofaScore).
It was reported in the summer that Mourinho thought he was the man to fill the void in our defence. There is no denying that he is an astonishing tackler with some key attributes to help our backline.
A difficult decision, but maybe one to have slightly lower down on the list of Jose’s targets, in my opinion. Some other options we should look at are Diego Carlos and Merih Demiral.
Merih Demiral is a physically imposing Turkish defender and a potential leader at the back who has put up very good passing numbers this season.
Demiral has 96% passing accuracy per game and also puts up very good aerial numbers, having won 73% of his duels in the air (SofaScore).
A true gladiator at the back who always gives 110% for the team and having only started seven games this season in the league (TransferMarkt), a move doesn’t seem totally unrealistic in the summer.
Diego Carlos is a slightly older and more experienced option at 27 years old. What separates Diego from the others is that he plays on the left side of a back four, which is an ability we need.
The physicality of the defender is standout at 6ft 1 (Transfermarkt), Diego Carlos is not the tallest centre-back around, but his big muscular frame makes him look imposing at the back.
A versatile centre back who can play in different defensive styles, he can leave space behind him in a high line due to his pace and recovery speed while also being effective in the box in a low block.
In conclusion, my pick would be Ibrahima Konate just over Diego Carlos.
A player who has been playing at a top level for three years now with Champions League experience would fit into our defence perfectly, if he can stay fit.
He would solve many of our problems with his aerial qualities, his raw pace and his experience under Julian Nagglesman should help us build from the back quicker and break opposition presses.
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