Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing the Tottenham Hotspur first team players after the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Up next: defender Kevin Wimmer
Appearances: 8 (5 PL, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cup, 1 Europa League)
Cards: 3 yellows
What went right?
The 2016-17 season was a huge leap backward for Kevin Wimmer. The twenty-four year old Austrian international showed himself to be a more than competent deputy to Jan Vertonghen and performed admirably in his absence for portions of the 2015-16 season. Its not to say that Wimmer was viewed as someone who’d push Toby Alderweireld or Jan Vertonghen for their places this year, but the expectation for most was higher than what actually happened.
What did happen was that Kevin Wimmer didn’t play much. The highlight of his year might be the North London Derby at the Emirates in November. While he had an own goal in the match, he was thrown into a high intensity rivalry, in an unfamiliar formation, in a season where he hadn’t played much, and put in a pretty strong effort.
Outside of this though, there isn’t much to write home about. Maybe that he didn’t leave in the January transfer window? Him being, along with Son Heung-Min, part of the second best bromance on the team? I had high expectations for Wimmer heading into the season, but Poch didn’t really prefer him much, thus there aren’t too many positives to extract.
What went wrong?
I’m not saying that Kevin Wimmer’s string of performances last year merited hype, but they certainly didn’t hint to an almost nonexistent role with the team this year. Pochettino trusted Wimmer last year, this year he did almost everything in his power not to play him.
The X factor here might be Victor Wanyama. With Wanyama featuring in midfield, Dier was available in the back. Or maybe Son Heung-Min’s form. When Vertonghen was out in the spring, Pochettino opted to play Sonny in a 4-2-3-1 as opposed to maintaining the 3-4-3 and play Wimmer. It could be as simple as ensuring that Wanyama, Dier, and Son would be on the field before him, but one has to wonder if there was some closed door mix up between the manager and the young Austrian. For when the appropriate moment to play came to Wimmer last year he featured, and when those same sorts of situations materialized this year, he did not.
All of this said, it could just be that he isn’t really fit to play in a three center-back set and is only serviceable at the Premier League level as a center-back in a back four. He isn’t a terrible passer of the ball, but he is clunky in his movements, and not the most fluid with the ball at his feet taking space. The reason the three center-back formation worked so well this year was because of the all around footballing quality of Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen. They can create and are dependable attacking from the back, an ability that Kevin Wimmer lacks.
Its a bit sad to say, but it would be surprising to see Kevin Wimmer in lilywhite next season. Its no secret that Spurs are shopping for another center-back and Wimmer has done enough in his young career to attract interest from solid Bundesliga clubs. After last season, Wimmer looked like a solid rotational option for Tottenham Hotspur for years to come. How quickly the fate of a footballer can change, especially the young ones, within the course of a season.