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Reports: Tottenham in negotiations for Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu

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The report originated in The Sun. Yes, we’re running it anyway.

Takehiro Tomiyasu of Bologna Fc in action during the Serie... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

This morning I am bringing you a transfer rumor that originated in The Sun. No seriously, I am. The Sun’s Alan Nixon reported yesterday that Tottenham Hotspur are “confident” of landing a £15m transfer for 22 year old Japanese international and defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna, despite the fact that they still don’t have a manager.

Now, I am not encouraging you to click on a link to The Sun. That’s why I’m here! Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows exactly why we basically disregard reports from this paper. And yet.

DUSTIN: Skip I want to ADDRESS this issue.
[SKIPJACK nods]
DUSTIN: You KNOW I am sensitive about printing rumors from the Sun
SKIPJACK: Absolutely
DUSTIN: BUT!

Here’s the thing: Alan Nixon is a good reporter and a solid source, despite the fact that he works for the least reliable paper in the UK. While that doesn’t guarantee that this report is true, it does give it a little more gravitas. And while he broke the story, Gianluca DiMarzio wasn’t far behind.

So who is Tomiyasu? He’s a 22-year old Japanese international defender who is equally comfortable as a RCB and as a RB, making him positionally versatile. Over the past couple of years he’s averaged more than 3 progressive carries per 90. Statsbomb called him an “unconventional fullback” in a write-up on him a year ago right after he moved to Bologna from Saint-Truiden, but he’s more or less split time between wide right and as a right sided center back and it’s been suggested he’s more of a CB than an RB. That suggests that he’d be pretty dang comfortable in a back three formation, a tactic that Managing Director of Football Fabio Paratici apparently wants Spurs to play next season regardless of manager.

Probably the best write-up on Tomiyasu comes from Luke Griffin in Target Scouting, who is clearly high on Tomiyasu’s potential. He notes that Bologna’s system doesn’t really use traditional fullbacks, which lends further credence to the idea that Tomiyasu’s future position is likely as a ball-playing central defender and occasional right back deputy. He reads the game well and while he isn’t the fastest or the most agile he has good defensive positioning and is good on the dribble. The stats don’t make him look like he’s particularly adept at creating chances, which is probably okay from a central defender — he’s probably not the guy you want putting a cross in but he’s likely going to be involved in the buildup. His FBRef profile page compares him (as a CB) to players like Diego Godin, Dayot Upamecano, and John Brooks.

And because this is the internet, there’s already a “TAKEHIRO TOMIYASU WELCOME TO TOTTENHAM” video out on YouTube. Here it is.

While discussing him in the Carty Free writer’s Slack, someone described him as kinda Ben Davies, but right sided and better at pretty much everything. Considering his age, that’s enough to get me interested. Plus the price is right and the wages are very unlikely to be problematic.

Nixon writes that he “desperately” wants to play in the Premier League, but notes that he’s already been named to Japan’s Olympic squad, something that would cause him to miss a few matches at the start of next season regardless of where he’s playing. Nixon also writes that Tomiyasu could pave the way for Joe Rodon to be sent out on loan (!?) and that Matt Doherty is still linked with a move away from the club.

I’m not going to pretend I’ve watched any Bologna this past season, but I’m getting more adept at interpreting statistics, and these stats look intriguing. No, he’s not Jules Kounde (another, much better, defender Spurs have been spuriously linked to in recent days) but at the price level Spurs are shopping in this summer he looks like a high upside option, and I am officially curious.

Even if the rumor did come from the Sun.