Mere days after Kieran Trippier completed his switch to Atlético Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur are at it again with the news Danny Rose could sign for Paris Saint-Germain.
The sight of former Burnley full-back Trippier clutching Atleti’s famous red and white striped jersey came out of the blue, whereas Rose has long been linked with a move away from the North Londoners.
In August 2017 the England international gave a candid interview in which he revealed his desire to move north to be closer to home, win trophies and fulfil his maximum earning potential.
“I am reaching my peak and have probably only got one big contract left in me,” he said. “Time is running out and I do want to win trophies. I don’t want to play football for 15 years and not have one trophy or one medal.
“Sorry, that’s not what I am about. I wouldn’t be happy with that. I want to win something. I will say this too – I will play up north. I don’t know exactly when, but I will get back up north and play some football somewhere.”
While at odds with his desire to return to his roots in Leeds, a move to the French capital would certainly tick the silverware and money boxes. But where would it leave Spurs?
Trippier had his problems last season but remained Pochettino’s preference at right-back, ahead of the calamitous Serge Aurier and youngster Kyle Walker-Peters. On the left, Ben Davies signed a new five-year deal at the start of July. But he will be Tottenham’s only senior left-back if Rose departs.
Rose was not included in the squad for Tottenham’s pre-season tour of Singapore. Spurs say the defender was “not travelling to explore prospective opportunities with other clubs”.
But are Tottenham making the right decision by selling a second full-back in such quick succession? Rose and Davies both made 20 Premier League starts last term totalling 1,798 and 1,839 minutes respectively.
That gives us a very even platform from which to compare them. Taking some key defensive and offensive metrics to begin with, Rose just about holds the upper-hand on both sides of the ball – particularly when it comes to attacking, gazumping Davies for crosses completed and open-play shot assists.
He also completed far more dribbles than the Welshman (1.75 per 90 vs. 0.2), racked up more assists (0.15 vs. 0) and took more touches in the opposition box (2.45 vs. 1.42).
This is underlined in the two players’ respective heat maps (below). We can see that Rose engages in more actions higher up the field than Davies whose work tends to stop short of the penalty area.
Why, then, has Pochettino decided to put his eggs in the basket marked Davies when the statistics suggest Rose enjoyed a better season than the former Swansea City defender? The answer could be threefold.
Firstly, there is sense Rose and Pochettino have not seen eye-to-eye since that interview two summers ago. Although the former Leeds United defender came into the 2017/18 campaign off the back of injury, he was used sparingly and it cannot be a coincidence he made just nine Premier League starts.
At the time, rumours abounded that Rose would abscond for the north, most likely to Manchester United or Manchester City, and Davies became the club’s undisputed first-choice left-back. However, Rose fought back last term and that is why this has become such a bone of contention.
The second part of the answer lies in the business acumen of the club and, more specifically, Daniel Levy. The chance to sell a 29-year-old full-back with only two years left on his contract for £20million is too good to turn down.
If Rose’s comments of two years ago are anything to go by, he has no intention of signing an extension with Spurs. In a year his value will have plummeted and by January 2021 he will be able to strike a pre-contract agreement with any club outside of England – as Aaron Ramsey did with Juventus.
The idea of losing a player of his quality and value for nothing is simply unpalatable to a ruthless businessman like Levy – even if Rose cost a paltry £1million when he joined from Leeds in 2007.
Finally, and this might have the biggest bearing of all, Pochettino sees more of what he wants in Davies. The Welshman does not make the same buccaneering runs Rose does. But that’s fine. The Tottenham coach preaches a passing game and Davies attempts (53.1 vs. 46.5) and completes (43.41 vs. 34.29) more than the England defender.
We can see as much in the Player Persona comparison graphic (above). Exclusive to Football Whispers, it characterises and contrasts the pair based on their actions in 2018/19; Davies is far more focused on offensive passing while Rose’s go-to is crossing.
Tottenham completed 4.36 crosses per match last season, putting them ninth in the Premier League. However, they were third for passes attempted with 661.5. It is clear how Pochettino wants his side to play and Davies is a far better fit in that respect.
Once Tottenham’s Rose, Danny boy’s time at Tottenham is up.