Tottenham’s never-ending quest to rejuvenate their defence is continuing this summer, with Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu the latest man tasked with tidying things up.
With Toby Alderweireld wanting out, Joe Rodon still showing signs of inexperience and both Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez doing little more than existing (poorly), fixing up at the back is one of the first jobs Nuno Espirito Santo must address. And a £15m move for Tomiyasu appears to be the latest answer.
Sevilla’s Jules Kounde was more than happy to humiliate Spurs by rejecting them over their lack of European prospects, but Tomiyasu is more than willing to make the move in an attempt to take his exciting career to the next level.
The 22-year-old Japan international might not come with the same hype as Kounde or other targets like Milan Skriniar, but that does not mean he isn’t up to the job.
In today’s position-less brand of football, Tomiyasu is almost the perfect defender. A hybrid of a centre-back and a right-back, the youngster usually doesn’t pick one role and instead attempts to blend them both together.
With both Bologna and Japan, Tomiyasu has been seen bursting down both wings and putting crosses into the box, using his impressive vision to identify the right moment to get forward and when to stay back.
Overlapping centre-backs are all the rage these days. Chris Wilder introduced them to the Premier League with Sheffield United and managers across the country have brought it into their own game. We saw it a lot from Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea as they roared to Champions League glory in the same three-man setup that Nuno is expected to use at Spurs.
Having said that, he’ll never pretend to be the best attacking defender. He’s not the most comfortable when it comes to beating a man off the dribble and he can be a bit guilty of playing a little safe at times, but let’s not forget that this is a centre-back we’re talking about.
Tomiyasu is more than willing to get involved in attacks and has enough about him to force opposition defenders to worry about him. He is always looking for a progressive pass and has enough about him to complete most of them.
Nuno will hope to see a lot of that from Tomiyasu, but there will be times in which his job will be to defend, and that’s not a problem for the Japan international, who is at his happiest when battling to recover possession.
At 6’3, Tomiyasu is comfortable in the air, and his frame still looks like it could take on a little more muscle to make him even more dangerous. He does need to add some extra power, but until that happens, he is more than happy using his long body to his advantage.
With seemingly telescopic legs, Tomiyasu is excellent at covering ground for someone his size. He might not be the fastest, but he only needs to take one stride to match two from a winger, and Tomiyasu knows how to angle those go-go-gadget limbs to intimidate opponents and force them backwards.
Because he’s not actually moving as quickly as it might appear, Tomiyasu is excellent when it comes to dealing with changes of direction. Tricky wingers going from left to right don’t phase him because he is comfortable enough stopping on a dime when needed.
Premier League wingers will have a tough time getting past Tomiyasu, and they will need to be alert if they do as the young defender is fantastic at recycling possession and getting his team moving forward again.
It’s the kind of signing Nuno needs. Tomiyasu will work perfectly in the boss’ 3-5-2 setup and boasts the kind of skill set which should maximise those around him.
He doesn’t turn 23 until November, and it’s important to remember that he is still in the early stages of his career, but Tomiyasu has shown all the signs of being a plug-and-play defender capable of growing into a real leader.