Noel Whelan has claimed Eric Dier could become a world-class defender under the guidance of Antonio Conte at Tottenham.
Dier, 27, has emerged as a mainstay in Conte’s three-man defence, playing in all four Premier League games led by the Italian so far.
He made his fourth start under Conte in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Norwich, which made it three consecutive wins for Spurs and a third clean sheet in the league under the former Inter Milan boss.
Dier has imposed himself on proceedings when given the opportunity to do so, which has led former Premier League striker Whelan to believe that Conte could turn him into one of the best defenders in the world.
He also suggested that Dier could be Spurs’ leader in defence and should be the player his teammates turn to for guidance.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan said: “We all know what a good player Eric Dier is since he’s adapted from that defensive midfield role. He’s gone back to centre-half.
“They’ve never had a real solid back three though, that’s the problem. Again, they’re not going to have that because of injuries.
“Sometimes you need to have a player that’s going to take the game by the scruff of the neck and be that leader. He needs to be that leader.
“He has been at the club a long time, longer than most of the other centre-halves. This is where you find that leadership, these people that dig their heels in.”
He added: “When you’re in the trenches, you want to be with somebody who’s got that fight about them. I think maybe Conte’s has given him that fire, that little bit of belief and confidence that he needs after a chat.
“Hopefully that will continue because we know there’s a real player there in him. He’s very comfortable on the ball. He has had that experience with the ball his feet by playing in midfield.
“We know he’s got the stature, the pace and strength to be fantastic, world-class centre-half. Maybe Conte’s realised that as well and seen that in training and in games. He needs more out of him and last night they got it.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Dier has been very good under Conte and looks to be getting back to what we have seen from him in the past. He is one of the senior players in the squad so he should be one of the players to hold a commanding role.
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