Eric Dier has been a key player for Spurs since arriving in 2014. The England International has all the tools to be a great midfielder or defender, but is the decision up to him?
It’s easy to forget that Dier’s first goal for Tottenham came while he was playing right back. Dier made an instant impact when he scored the match winning goal against London rivals West Ham on opening day of the 2014-2015 Premier League campaign. During his first season at White Hart Lane Dier featured as a defensive midfielder and right back. Dier displayed the versatility that would make him a valuable asset to the club.
Eric Dier has been able to line up at three different positions during his career at Tottenham. Dier’s preferred position is in the midfield. However, he has filled in well in the center of defense when called upon. Scoring his first goal in a Tottenham shirt from right back showcases his versatility. At just 24 years old Dier has a lot of football in front of him and may need to make a decision on what position he wants to call his own.
At this point in his career I believe Dier is better suited in the midfield than in defense. Eric Dier will never be a prolific goal scorer but can command the midfield. Familiarity is the main reason Dier is better suited as a midfielder. As a result of making more appearances for Spurs and England in the midfield Dier has a higher comfort level at the position.
What does the Future hold?
Mauricio Pochettino believes Dier is better suited as a centre-back:
“I told Eric he has what it takes to be the best English centre-back but he has to be convinced of that himself.”
That is high praise from a manager that has developed an impressive list of Three Lions regulars. Pochettino was instrumental in call-ups for Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli, Harry Kane, and Harry Winks. Pochettino’s development of fullbacks and center-backs should be evidence to Dier that he can succeed as a defender.
Dier possesses several attributes that could make him an excellent centre-back. Due to his tall frame Dier performs well in aerial duals. Furthermore, Dier’s passing range has been on display in both positions. However, his momentary lapses in concentration have been lethal. The most glaring example was the game winning goal Manchester United scored against Spurs in their first meeting this season. Dier switched off for a moment only to watch Anthony Martial put the game winning goal past Hugo Lloris.
Does Pochettino have the final word?
Eric Dier can truly be one of the best English centre-backs with improvements in focus and concentration. The young Spurs player must answer the question of which position suits him best. If Dier’s opinion differs from Pochettino how will that effect his standing at Spurs in the future? Jose Mourinho wanted Dier last summer and instead had to settle on Matic. If Dier is unhappy at Spurs he could attempt to force a move to Old Trafford.
I believe that if Dier gets the momentary lapses of concentration out of his system he can be a top English defender. It took Vertonghen and Alderweireld a few seasons to become the stalwart defenders that they are today. Additionally, the more time Dier spends at center-back the faster he will progress. Dier provides a luxury for Tottenham due to his ability to play several different positions. As of today due to his lack of consistent playing time in central defense Dier is better suited in a holding midfield role.