Eric Dier has admitted ahead of the new campaign that he is looking forward to reaching his maximum potential as a centre-back for both club and country.
The 26-year-old has been hailed for his versatility over the years, having featured for Tottenham as a centre-back, defensive midfielder, and right-back.
The former Sporting Lisbon man admitted that his stint in central midfield was always supposed to be temporary and that he thrived in that role due to the specific system that the Lilywhites played during that time.
When asked about his best position, Dier told Sky Sports: “People are a bit confused on the subject. Since I was eight years old, that’s where I’ve played. When I signed for Spurs it was as a centre-back.
“Obviously, I had a great season in midfield and during that season the Tottenham team was built in a way which suited me to play in that position, but as time went on it developed into something else.
“The conversation I always had with the previous manager at Spurs was about that transition back to centre-back and it got to the point where I felt like the time was right and I needed to make that transition. I feel like it’s my position, where I’m most confident and where I can fulfil my potential to the maximum.”
Dier’s versatility has arguably cost him over the years as he has been seen as a utility man by many, rather than a specialist in any particular role, and that is a perception that he is determined to change.
The defender added: “I’m still willing to play anywhere if that means the team are successful and that’s what the manager would want, but I just felt, being 26 and relatively young still, it was time to become a specialist in a position. Otherwise, I feel you can let the years pass you by and you can let your career pass you by jumping around.
“I feel like it was the right time to become a specialist in one position, and as I said before, it’s a position where I feel I can fulfill my potential to the maximum. It’s kind of enough talking about it and just proving it with my performances on the pitch, but I feel very happy with where I’m at and I just want to keep building on that.”
The Spurs star also admitted that it feels like a new start for him ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, on the back of what has been a difficult season and a half.
He added: “It was a very difficult year and a half for me. Before lockdown, I felt like I was really getting back on track and then post lockdown I continued that. I’m happy to be where I’m at right now. I feel good and to be back with England is one of those stepping stones I wanted to get to after the year and a half I had.
“I’ve said it a few times, I feel a bit like that 20-year-old that I was when I arrived at Tottenham. I have that kind of energy now. I’m really focused on my goals and my objectives for the future and I’m just working every day, working as hard as possible to try and fulfil the potential that I think I can.
“I’m happy with where I’m at with my club and trying to replicate that for England. But, as I said, I think there’s a lot I can still improve on, a lot I can get better at and I think it’s the beginning of a new journey for me.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Dier’s point about the system suiting him when he made the transition to midfield in 2015-16 is an important one. One of the reasons he thrived in that role was because he was often asked to drop into a centre-back position to make it a back three when we had possession of the ball. Many Spurs fans also seem to forget that the 26-year-old played some of his best football in a Spurs shirt as a central defender in a back three alongside Vertonghen and Alderweireld during 2016-17 season, with Dembele and Wanyama moping up ahead of the backline.
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