Name: Japhet Tanganga
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Date of Birth: 31 March 1999
Japhet Tanganga – his career so far
It is pretty safe to say that Japhet Tanganga has been one of the biggest revelations for Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019/20 season and Jose Mourinho’s greatest find so far as the new coach of the London outfit.
Fans couldn’t have wished for better Tottenham news when Tanganga made his full debut under the Special One as the youngster simply kept impressing and kept performing at the absolute highest level required of him.
But let’s start at the very beginning. Tanganga made his senior debut during the team’s pre-season friendly match away to Girona back in August 2018 and then returned to the scene of the crime in 2019, with performances against Juventus, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Inter, impressing in all of them respectively.
His senior competitive debut, however, didn’t come until he started in Spurs’ Carabao Cup third round tie at Colchester United in September 2019, before also making his full Premier League debut in a home match against none other than Liverpool on 11 January 2020. In retrospect, now we know that was the start of something big.
But Tanganga didn’t just spring out of nowhere as he has been in Spurs’ academy since the age of ten. The now established defender advanced through the ranks, playing for U16s in 2014/15 before making the step up to U18s football in November 2014.
Not long after that, he played a total of 46 games for Spurs’ U23 side, even managing to score one goal and provide two assists under his belt in the process as well. Even though he was quite prolific and clearly important with so many appearances, his first-team games didn’t arrive before the 2019/20 campaign and Mourinho’s arrival.
Now, he can boast with a total of 11 senior performances in the ongoing season with a total of 982 minutes across all competitions, participating in all four, including a full 90-minute game in the Champions League in the defeat to RB Leipzig.
Even though currently no transfer rumours indicate the club should be scared about potentially losing their young gem nor are there any Spurs news suggesting they might be willing to part with him, there is one worrying thing to note in the whole situation – there is yet a breakthrough to be reached in their current contract talks.
Some recent transfer news suggested that Tanganga has actually turned down Spurs’ initial offer back in November but that the parties are still working on finding a solution for the near future.
This could tell us that he valued greatly at the club and Daniel Levy seems to be adamant about keeping him around. That must be some of the best Spurs news to come out of the camp as of late, given the club’s injury record and the overall achievements in the latter stages of the current campaign.
If Mourinho can ensure Tanganga stays at the club, it would be a massive win for the squad as he seems to be an invaluable asset for the future of the squad.
At the moment, Tanganga should be extremely highly rated purely because of his sheer versatility and the ability to slot into virtually all positions in Spurs’ backline. According to Transfermarkt’s database, he has played all across the defensive line as well as a right-midfielder in 2019/20 for the senior team.
When on the pitch, Tanganga’s big physical presence is usually what stands out as he has the power to shrug off defenders, tackle the ball and even more importantly, win duels against the opposition’s attackers.
We can see that in his defensive duels as Wyscout indicates he made 8.12 per 90 minutes with a 59.2% success rate in 2019/20, as well as the 7.99 recoveries he’s made in that same period. Judging by his heatmap, he does seem to be a more traditional defender who is keener on staying his ground and prioritising a compact defence over a potential venture into the opposition’s half.
But that also means that Mourinho can transform his lineup into a three-at-the-back when in possession of the ball with Tanganga acting as the third centre-back. This gives them more defensive solidity and also makes the team less susceptible to fast turnovers and transitional attacks.
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