Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has been handed a defensive boost following Matt Doherty’s fantastic performance in Spurs’ 4-0 victory over Leeds at the weekend, with the manager raving about the ‘good’ options now at his disposal.
The Lowdown: Conte’s desire for a right-back
Conte was heavily linked with a number of potential right-back moves during the January transfer window.
Fabio Paratici was close to signing Wolves winger Adama Traore, with Sky Sports reporting that, after an initial £15 million bid was rejected, both sides were nearing a compromise on the fee.
It was said that the Italian boss would utilise Traore as a right wing-back, despite his more attacking origins. However, La Liga giants Barcelona swooped in at the last moment with an offer, as the 26-year-old opted to return to Spain due to his reluctance to play at the back.
This left the 52-year-old with Emerson Royal as his primary option at right-back. Doherty can of course play on both flanks, but shined for Wolves on the right, where he also grabbed a goal and assists against Leeds last weekend.
The Latest: Conte handed defensive boost
In his pre-Middlesbrough press conference, Conte sung Doherty’s praises, claiming his versatility offers a ‘good alternative’, as he also confirmed news of returns for Sergio Reguilon and Emerson.
As quoted by football.london, he claimed:
“He’s another player improving, working very hard and improved a lot. He’s a serious guy. I like him, if he plays or doesn’t play, his commitment and his attitude is always at the top. I think he’s improving a lot and he understood that in this squad he can have an important part for this team.
“With Emerson on the right but also Doherty on the left he can give me a good alternative. I was pleased to see him perform at this level. It was the same for Sessegnon.
“Now we have recovered Sergio Reguilon and also Emerson. We’re improving, we’re working hard. We have to use the defeats to learn, to continue to improve in many aspects, not only football aspects but also character and spirit and desire to be strong.”
The Verdict: Much needed depth
Conte will be thrilled to see Doherty’s improvements. This will provide him with much-needed squad depth, as Spurs look ahead to their FA Cup clash against Middlesbrough.
Statistically, when comparing full-back performances over the past year in European competition and the ‘big 5’ leagues, the Ireland international has been phenomenal.
He ranks in the 99th percentile in Europe for non-penalty expected goals, assists, blocks, clearances and aerial duels won (via FB Ref).
If the 30-year-old can maintain his fine form from the Leeds game, where he earned himself an 8.3 rating, Conte will be sure to utilise him much more frequently.
In other news: Conte sends Dane Scarlett message
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