Andre Villas-Boas does not rate Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Maybe he is wrong about the Cameroon international, but Villas-Boas made it abundantly clear in the last half of the season that Assou-Ekotto is not his idea of the perfect left back for his system.
But Tottenham don't have a decent replacement for Assou-Ekotto. Kyle Naughton got some opportunities in place of Assou-Ekotto, but he's a dependable back-up at best so unless Villas-Boas plans on handing Danny Rose the keys to the position, Spurs are going to be left back hunting this summer.
Enter Ricardo Rodriguez.
Name: Ricardo Rodriguez
Age: 20 years old
Team: VfL Wolfsburg
Position: Left back
There aren't a lot of 20 year olds who have been a part of their national team for two years, but Rodriguez isn't your average 20 year old. He was a star for Switzerland's U-17 World Cup winning team and by the time he was 19 he was starting for the senior team in Euro 2012 qualifying.
It didn't take long for Wolfsburg to spot Rodriguez and buy him from FC Zurich, his boyhood club. As soon as Rodriguez moved to Wolfsburg in January 2012, he was a starter. He started every match the club player for the rest of the season and followed it up with 25 more starts this season.
Rodriguez is strong and isn't afraid to run a player over, which can be a problem at times, but should be smoothed out with experience. He is also a threat going forward, showing more quickness than pure pace, but it's not as if he is slow. While his crossing can be improved, it is not a liability and his ability to make smart runs and smart passes makes him a threat in the attacking third.
The prototypical modern full back is a tick under 6'0'', strong, quick and shows the ability to combine with short passes and create trouble inside as much as bombing down the wing. Rodriguez shows all of those things, along with an aggressiveness in winning the ball back quickly that fits what Villas-Boas wants, making him a nearly perfect signing for Spurs.
Likely price: £8 million
Probably that valuation is wrong: It may be off by a little bit, but left backs are never going to be big money buys so Rodriguez won't break Spurs' bank, even if it does go up.
Team's willingness to sell: Wolfsburg aren't going to go around trying to sell Rodriguez, but they aren't in a position to turn down significant money. Rodriguez is young, good and just joined from Zurich 18 months ago, but everyone has a number and Wolfsburg's for their left back won't be exorbitant.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Great. Villas-Boas doesn't think Assou-Ekotto fits his system so whether that's true or not, the team needs a left back and Rodriguez can step in and be the club's best at the position from day one. That he's young just makes it better because he can be at the club long-term or he can have significant resale value in five years. For both the present and future, Rodriguez would be magnificent for Spurs.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Seeing as there hasn't been a single rumor linked Rodriguez to Spurs, it seems highly unlikely that he ends up at White Hart Lane. He may welcome a move to London and he may be affordable to Spurs, but right now it does not appears as if the club is pursuing him in the slightest.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: A+. If Spurs can secure their present and future at left back, a position of need, without breaking the bank then it's a job well done and Rodriguez is just that. He's great, he has room to grow, he's reasonably priced and he shouldn't have a problem securing a work permit either. It's a perfect marriage, now go get the ring, Spurs.