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Eric Dier’s future at Tottenham Hotspur has been a subject of much speculation in recent weeks. The 23-year old versatile Englishman has developed into a key cog in the Tottenham wheel. But there have been reports doing the rounds that Dier is a primary target for Premier League rivals Manchester United.
The 20-time league winners have been monitoring the former Sporting Lisbon defender and are willing to shell out as much as £40million for his signature. While Spurs will not be looking to offload any player, the chance to make a 10 times profit on a player that they signed for just £4million in 2014 may get chairman Daniel Levy interested.
Dier, primarily a centre-half, started out playing as a right-back for Spurs in his first season but made the defensive midfield position his own in the 2015/16 campaign. The 23-year old has established himself as the first-choice central midfielder for the England national team as well and has 17 caps for the Three Lions. However, the signing of Victor Wanyama last summer has meant that he has had to play more games in a three-man backline alongside Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
While the player himself has shown no signs of wanting to leave and the club making it clear that they will not be selling players, it looks like Dier might not leave the club. If it so happens that Dier does end up leaving Tottenham to join United in the summer, a replacement will be imperative for the North Londoners, considering that they will want to do one better and aim for the title next season while also fare better in Europe.
One name that has been often touted as a replacement for Dier in recent times is Inter Milan midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia. As per reports from the Tutto Mercato Web, the Lilywhites had sent scouts to watch the midfielder last month when the Nerazzurri played Sampdoria in the Serie A.
The 24-year old was regarded as one of the hottest prospects in Europe and one of the next generation stars of French football during his days with Sevilla and AS Monaco. However, his progress seems to have stalled since his £30million move to the Giuseppe Meazza in the summer of 2015. Like many promising players who struggle to fulfil their potential following a big money move, Kondogbia too has struggled to prosper in Italy.
Under the now-sacked Stefano Pioli, Kondogbia struggled to break into the team and as a result, he has started just 19 of Inter’s 36 Serie A games this season. Considering that he has struggled to flourish in Italy, interest from Tottenham does feel a little strange, but the Frenchman has the ability and the potential to be the midfield general for the North Londoners.
At 6ft 2in tall and a sturdy frame, Kondogbia has the strength and the physicality needed to battle it out in the English league. A strong and an astute tackler, he brings a tenacious presence to the middle of the park and can operate as an effective screen for his defence. The 24-year old has the power and the energy to run up and down the park all day long.
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But what sets him apart from most defensive midfielders is his range and accuracy of passing and his excellent dribbling abilities. Kondogbia possesses excellent distribution abilities that allow him to control the flow of the game from the deeper areas, effectively operating as a deep-lying playmaker of sorts. The fact that he can carry the ball forward with equal comfort – Kondogbia has an 87% dribble success rate (53 successful in 61 attempts) in Serie A this season, to join the attack is something that makes him an asset.
One might feel that the Frenchman is more in the mould of Mousa Dembele than Dier, but Kondogbia is more of a defensive midfielder with natural play-making abilities, unlike the Belgian who is more of a box to box operator. Kondogbia can sit back and shield his rearguard when playing alongside Dembele, whereas he has the capability to be more adventurous when partnered with someone like Victor Wanyama.
His career may have taken a downward path since his move to Inter, but without a doubt, there is plenty of untapped potential in the midfielder and Mauricio Pochettino has proved over the years that he can bring out the best out of such players. If Dier does leave, Spurs can look at Kondogbia to fill the void that will be created.