Tottenham Hotspur: Does Antonio Conte’s leaky defence miss Juan Foyth?

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Tottenham Hotspur have struggled for defensive stability of late – and they may have made a big mistake in letting Juan Foyth leave the club in a £13.5 million deal.

In Spurs’ last three Premier League outings, they have picked up zero points. In that time, they have conceded seven goals spread across three successive defeats which leaves them in eighth place, five points behind the final Champions League qualification spot.

As a result of their losses to Chelsea, Southampton and Wolves, their last clean sheet in all competitions came on 1st January, when they snuck past relegation-threatened Watford in a 1-0 away victory.

In the recent loss to Wolves, manager Antonio Conte opted for a back three, playing Matt Doherty at right wing-back until substituting him for Emerson Royal. Those two have battled it out for the right-sided role of the Spurs defence this season, but neither man has convinced.

On top of that, Eric Dier, Ben Davies, Japhet Tanganga, Joe Rodon, Davinson Sanchez and Cristian Romero have all been used in the centre of defence at times. Despite the numerous options, they are still letting in more goals than they are scoring this season – with a Premier League goal difference of -1 up to this point.

This has led to Spurs’ defence coming under scrutiny in the media as the Italian battles to turn around their fortunes – which may be no surprise, especially as a potential solution to their situation was right under their noses not so long ago.

With Conte struggling to find the right balance in defence, it’s easy to wonder how Foyth may have helped solve some issues for Tottenham this season.

Able to play at right-back or centre-back, the 24-year-old has been a mainstay in the Villarreal defence this season, playing in 25 games across all competitions.

He has also helped his team claim seven La Liga clean sheets in 17 outings – this is only one fewer than Spurs have in all 22 of their Premier League matches.

He averages more tackles per game (3) than Spurs star Cristian Romero (2.6).

It seems more than likely that Conte’s ultimate aim is to play his well-known 3-5-2 system in north London as he aims to get Tottenham back into the Champions League.

Were Spurs wrong to sell Juan Foyth?





If he was to do that, it could be argued that Foyth would make a great fit as the right-sided centre-back. Meanwhile, if the Italian wants to use a more traditional back four, the Argentine could also slot in nicely – just as he did when helped Villarreal beat Spurs’ local rivals Arsenal in the Europa League last season.

Indeed, the defender received positive reviews during his time in Spain last term – with his versatility being noted as a key feature back then – while ex-boss and compatriot Mauricio Pochettino also praised the ‘quality’ centre-back after what had been a tricky start to life in north London.

Taking all that into account, it seems a little foolish of Daniel Levy to have installed a buy option in Villarreal’s loan deal, allowing Foyth to leave the club this summer, when he may have been a better option at the back than some.

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