In some ways, Eric Dier has turned into Tottenham Hotspur’s Philipp Lahm. Originally purchased from Sporting Lisbon in 2014, over the past two seasons Dier has developed a positional flexibility across the back line and into midfield that has made him into an extremely useful utility player for Spurs.
And according to Dier on the club website, that ability to play in multiple positions has been extremely helpful to his development as an all-around player.
“Obviously depending on where I’m playing I have to adapt to that position, but I feel I can do that quite easily now because I’ve been playing in there regularly. I find it easy to adapt and I enjoy it – I think it makes me a much better footballer, being able to play in all these positions and adapt to them...
“Everyone is pushing each other and to get to where we want to get, we have to be a squad and everyone has to fight and push each other to improve. Wherever I’m playing, I just want to be the best in that position.”
Ostensibly purchased as a central defender, Dier found himself moved to right back in his very first Spurs match in August of 2014 after Kyle Naughton was sent off against West Ham. He scored the match’s only goal in a Spurs 1-0 win, and went on to play right back on a number of occasions in Mauricio Pochettino’s first year.
While his best position is quite possibly defensive midfielder, as evident last season and the past few matches when paired with Mousa Dembele, his experience as a defender means he’s able to drop deep as needed to help shield and augment the back line, or move forward into more attacking positions. He has also spent a good number of matches playing on the right side of a back three, with Victor Wanyama moving into midfield beside Mousa Dembele.
Dier’s comments about positional flexibility and his happiness playing in multiple positions is timely, considering how frequently he is being linked with a move away from White Hart Lane. Just today, Matt Law writes in the Telegraph that Tottenham has an interest in Burnley defender Michael Keane. That link, combined with a supposed dissatisfaction with Dier’s lack of playing time in midfield, has led Law to speculate that Dier might be willing to move to a club that will offer him a full-time gig in midfield... a club like Manchester United.
Dier is happy at White Hart Lane, but believes his long-term future lies as a midfielder – a position Mourinho is willing to promise him at Old Trafford.
The 23-year-old has established himself as England’s first-choice holding midfielder, but Pochettino has refused to make an guarantees over where he will play for Tottenham.
— Matt Law, The Telegraph
Obviously, Dier’s quotes to Tottenham’s club website almost directly refute Law’s assertion, and it’s very difficult to believe that Spurs would have any interest in selling one of the club’s core players to a direct rival that will almost certainly finish below them in the table.
Spurs are almost certainly looking to bolster their defensive depth this summer, and Michael Keane would be a very decent young player in that regard. However, a Spurs bid for Keane would more likely mean doubts about Kevin Wimmer’s future at the club, not Dier.
In fact, Dier with his positional flexibility is exactly the kind of player that Mauricio Pochettino wants to attract to White Hart Lane as he develops a team that will contend for titles every season. Dier may indeed prefer to play defensive midfield, but based on the above quotes there doesn’t seem to be any indication that he’s not extremely happy playing in multiple positions as tactics and injuries demand.
As Spurs’ best players improve and , it’s not unusual to see them connected with other clubs that can pay them larger wages. However, we’ve already seen tons of evidence that Tottenham’s current group of players love the club, their manager, and their accomplishments in north London. So long as Spurs continue to challenge for big things and keep their players as happy as they are now, there don’t seem to be any concerns that players like Dier will be looking for greener pastures anytime soon.