Opinion: How Eberechi Eze could take Tottenham to the next level

James Maddison arrived late in June 2023, making him the third signing of the Postecoglou era. The then-26-year-old attacking midfielder instantly eased Tottenham’s long-standing craving for a creative midfielder, however a long-term injury and a struggle for consistency since suggests Tottenham should provide Maddison with some competition come the summer.

Giovanni Lo Celso is currently Maddison’s obvious competition for the attacking midfield role, however, despite the Argentine international making his 100th appearance in lilywhite against Luton Town, the midfielder struggles to get a chance to impress, due to either Postecoglou’s reluctance to play him, Lo Celso being injured or Maddison blocking his path into the team.

The Rosario-born playmaker is nearing the final year under contract at Spurs (TransferMarkt), and it doesn’t appear as if he’ll be offered a new deal any time soon. As is the trend with players nearing the end of their deals, the club will likely try to move Lo Celso on come the summer in an attempt to maximise his diminishing transfer value.

Spurs should therefore be reminded of the troubles of their past in terms of not providing top-quality back-up to key players who are injury prone.

Tottenham fans certainly won’t forget about the years when Vincent Janssen was the only player Pochettino could turn to when Harry Kane inevitably was sidelined at some point throughout the season.

The periods where Kane was out, and the team were left trying to play with Janssen or another make-shift replacement, often derailed seasons that looked promising.

“Postecoglou spoke before the West Ham game stating about his desire for his desire for people to ‘look at us [Tottenham] differently’ in a year’s time (Football.London), going on to enforce his idea by more explicitly outlining, ‘if you don’t think that you’re going to be in a title race in 12 month time then I don’t know why I’m here’. (Football.London)

However, for those ambitions to come to fruition, his side will need to emulate the methodology in recruitment that the teams above them have, which is consistently evolving their squads to ensure each position has top-quality players both on the field and on the bench.

For example, Liverpool have five high-level centre-backs in Van Dijk, Matip, Konate, Gomez and Quansah, despite playing a back four. In attack, the Reds have five forwards that would walk into most squads with Nunez, Salah, Diaz, Gakpo and Jota.

Manchester City’s squad depth is well documented with players such as Grealish, Doku and Kovacic regularly vacating the bench. Although the reality is that City are a tougher club to reference to, considering their incredible levels of money available to them, their ability to attract top-quality players to merely strengthen their levels of depth is the reason why they can consistently compete on all fronts.

Arsenal brought Raya despite having Ramsdale in goal, Timber despite having Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, and White who can all play as a centre-half. Even Aston Villa added Moussa Diaby to their ranks in the summer for £55 million as well as Zaniolo on loan, providing competition to Buendia & Bailey, both of whom had contributed to 17 G/A in the Premier League the season prior.

The facts of their competition show that if Spurs do seek to raise their ceiling for next season as Postecoglou desires, they will need to add a top-level player who can also offer a creative output much like James Maddison.

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Tottenham need to move for Eberechi Eze

Eberiche Eze would therefore be an incredible statement signing. The Crystal Palace midfielder was heavily linked with Tottenham in his days at QPR but a move never came to fruition with Eze opting to continue his development at Selhurst Park. (The Sun)

Despite the constant turmoil at Palace in the last few seasons, Eze has still shone in a midfield which, other than him, offers little going forward. The 25-year-old manufactures 4.86 shot-creating actions per 90, the 13th most in the entire league. Tottenham’s James Maddison currently leads that exact stat, although, Eze is playing in a side that has the fourth-worst shots per 90 mins in the Premier League (11.59 per 90). (FBRef)

Interestingly, Eze and Maddison both carry the responsibility of being their team’s creative output, Maddison creates 44.66% of Spurs’ shots per 90, and Eze creates 41.93% of his team’s (FBRef). It suggests that Eze is used to that burden being placed upon him, so if he was called upon at Spurs to create for the side’s relentless attacking set-up, the former QPR man could aptly do so.

Tottenham have reaped the rewards of Premier League proven players as well, both Brennan Johnson and Maddison were purchased from teams in similar positions that Eze’s Crystal Palace team are currently in. Often the familiarity with the league ensures the player’s period of adaptation to the pace and style of the division is quicker, and the signing’s risk of failure appears to be smaller.

Eze has been linked with various moves away for many years now, and it seems at least one of him or Olise will depart Glasner’s side in the summer, but how can Spurs attract such a starlet to them rather than the likes of Manchester City who are also rumoured to be interested. (TNT Sports)

The first key part is Eze’s agency. Player’s representatives are becoming more and more important in the modern transfer market and intriguingly Eze is represented by CAA Base. The large agency has a glaring link to Tottenham over recent seasons. Maddison, Porro, Son, and Sarr are all currently on CAA Base’s books, as well as former Spurs players Walker, Trippier and Walker-Peters. Even manager Ange Postecoglou has a contract with the agency until 2027. (TransferMarkt)

The evidence proves it wouldn’t be unusual for Tottenham to be in contact with CAA Base about the possibility of bringing Eze to the club. The midfielder may have even spoken about Postecoglou’s team with some of Spurs’ current players, Eze himself posted a photo on his Instagram back in September of him and club captain, Heung-Min Son laughing together at a Burberry event. (Instagram)

The Crystal Palace dynamo would clearly not have trouble settling into life at N17, knowing fellow England teammate James Maddison would undoubtedly sweeten the proposal of playing for Tottenham.

If there was such a thing as an audition in football, Eze would have certainly passed his with flying colours. Ange Postecoglou watched his side go 1-0 down at home due to the brilliance of Eze who curled in a stunning free kick in the 59th minute, after the game Eze was filmed having an embrace with Postecoglou as well as having conversations with Son and Maddison. (X)

Tottenham’s potential attracting of Eze to the club didn’t stop there though, Tom Allnut of The Times spoke on The Tottenham Way podcast following the game revealing that ‘Eze and his entourage has basically a full box to themselves at Tottenham. I don’t know if that is entirely normal for an opposition player’. (The Tottenham Way Podcast)

However, as ideal as it would be for Tottenham to be able to sign Eze as a luxury squad player, it’s unlikely, even despite Levy and the club’s best efforts, unless Eze can be utilised in other ways rather than the position that James Maddison is likely to vacate for most of next season.

That is where Eze’s versatility becomes incredibly valuable. Although the Palace midfielder is an established attacking midfielder now, he has the capabilities of playing on the right, but predominately the left wing, having played over 65 games there in his career. (TransferMarkt)

Spurs currently only have Brennan Johnson, Son and Werner who play on the left-hand side of the front line, but with Johnson and Son both more suited to playing elsewhere in the attack and Werner’s future undecided, that position becomes an area that requires bolstering.

Eze could offer Tottenham a completely different dynamic out wide if deployed there. The England international is currently averaging 2.93 successful take-ons per 90 mins (FBRef), which is an incredible 1.21 more than Spurs’ leading player in such a statistic (Kulusevski with 1.72 per 90). (FBRef)

1 on 1 wingers are a hallmark of Postecoglou’s sides, Jota and Maeda were excellent in such situations in the Australian’s time at Celtic, and it’s an aspect of attacking that has been absent in Tottenham’s games of late, especially against low blocks.

For example, Kulusevski was hooked at half-time against Luton due to his lack of creativity and capabilities of fashioning a chance out of nothing, the Swede didn’t complete a single successful dribble and only had seven touches in the opposition’s box.

Postecoglou’s current attacking set-up can often feel frustrating to watch with Spurs slowly passing from side to side with there being a lack of dynamism on show or bravery to try something that may unlock the opposition defence.

Eze could be the joker in Postecoglou’s pack, wherever he may be deployed on the pitch, the 25-year-old has the ability to produce magic and bypass lines of defence. Those moments of magic can change games, and if Tottenham a serious about progressing next season, they’ll need to find a way to churn out victories, Eze could be the man to help turn those draws into victories.

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