Serge Aurier is a player who has had his troubles in the past, but is undoubtedly one of the best right-backs in world football. Spurs seem to be willing to let the past be the past with Aurier, with the chances of him joining the club for a bargain £23million looming ever closer, according to L’Equipe.
But what will he add to Mauricio Pochettino’s squad and why is he the perfect Walker replacement?
Pochettino and his full-backs
First of all, Pochettino has proven himself to be something of a full back whisperer. In his managerial career, he has coached the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw at Southampton, who went on to bigger clubs and become England internationals. At Spurs, he transformed Walker and Danny Rose into the two finest full backs in England. Kieran Trippier has also become a full England international under his stewardship, and Ben Davies has greatly improved as well. Even youth product Kyle Walker-Peters got the man of the match award on his debut.
However, with Rose injured, and seemingly gone awol, and Walker having left to join Manchester City, Spurs now look a little light in the full back department. A big part of Pochettino’s success at Spurs in the last few years has been the use of his full backs. In Walker and Rose, he had two of the most explosive full backs in Europe, who were able to patrol up and down their respective wings all game. They had phenomenal pace, energy and were able to carry the ball up the pitch, often providing the team’s width almost on their own.
This was the case in almost every setup Pochettino has employed during his tenure at Spurs. However, with Davies filling in for the injured Rose, and Trippier now first-choice after selling Walker, Spurs have lost that pace and drive out wide. It was a problem against Chelsea last Sunday, with the Blues happy to sit back and close up the pitch, allowing Davies and Trippier the ball out wide, knowing they would not commit their man or try to beat their marker in a one-v-one.
During his whole time with the club, Trippier has completed one take on against an opponent, and that was Sunday when he was running back to his own goal. This isn’t to say that Davies and Trippier are poor full backs. They have proven themselves to be extremely valuable rotation options.
They simply aren’t suited to Pochettino’s favoured systems.
What Aurier brings to Spurs
That is why the signing of Aurier would be an excellent piece of business, in terms of what he brings to the football pitch. Aurier is as like for like in terms of Walker as you are going to get. He is an explosive full back who is constantly trying to carry the ball upfield with his pace and dribbling ability. He also has the stamina to get back and defend, and to do this for a whole 90 minutes. He can provide the right-wing width for his side all on his own.
Not only that, the Ivorian is an extremely intelligent player. He senses defensive danger and is extremely solid. Aurier is excellent at spotting the space in attacking positions to which he then exploits it. Aurier also has excellent technique and end product to match.
Since the 2012/13 season, Aurier has made more assists than any other defender in Ligue 1 with 19. He completes on average 1.7 dribbles per game, which is actually 0.5 more than Kyle Walker himself.
However, one positive about Trippier is the effectiveness of his crossing. He made the joint most assists with Walker in the Premier League last season with five, despite playing far fewer minutes.
That being said, Aurier is also a frequent crosser. He plays balls into the box 5.4 times per game on average.
So then, Aurier looks like a perfect blend of Spurs’ current, and former full backs. His signing could prove to be the most important one Spurs make this transfer window, should it go ahead I’m pretty sure that Danny Rose wouldn’t have to Google his name…
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