This season, Tottenham Hotspur has been in excellent form, and Ange Postecoglou will be happy that his team has only suffered one defeat in six Premier League games, which has kept them in the running for Champions League qualifying.
After a dismal start to the season due to a difficult stretch in November and December, Spurs fans will be happy with the overall progress made under their Australian manager’s direction. Last season, Spurs finished in ninth place.
The main source of their issues in the previous season was their poor defense, as Spurs conceded an incredible 63 goals in the Premier League, only surpassed by the three relegated teams and the newly promoted Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest.
After spending the 2022–2023 season on loan with his previous club, Destiny Udogie—who had completed an original £15 million deal from Udinese—finally made his debut in the summer with Micky van de Ven.
In the middle of the season, Radu Dragusin joined Postecoglou’s carefully reorganized backline after Eric Dier, formerly labeled a “liability” by writer Mitch Fretton, was recently sold to Bayern Munich.
There’s space for one more player to strengthen the rearguard, and although a transfer this month seems improbable, a former top target might find themselves relocating to north London in the summer.
Spurs looking to add a defender
In an interview with GIVEMESPORT, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano stated that Tottenham is still interested in AFC Bournemouth defender Lloyd Kelly, while Serie A teams AC Milan and Juventus are also considering a move.
Lloyd-Kelly, the Premier League of Bournmouth
Over the past few years, the 25-year-old has performed admirably on the south coast; nevertheless, his contract expires at the end of the current season, and it appears increasingly likely that he will not extend.
After failing with a £20 million bid at the beginning of the season, Spurs will be hoping that the earlier preparations tip the scales in their favor and deflect interest from some of Europe’s best teams.
Lloyd Kelly’s theatrical approach
Importantly, Kelly matches Postecoglou’s ideal player profile to finish his backline because he is a left-sided, left-footed defender.
Although he is not a ball-playing defender, Romanian international Dragusin, who signed a £27 million deal with Genoa one week ago, is skilled on all sides of the central defense and is respected for his tenacity and authority.
But as journalist Jacob Tanswell has previously noted, Kelly is a resourceful distributor who is nonetheless a “monster” in the tackle. Kelly would provide the counterbalance to make sure that Postecoglou’s idea has a multifaceted structure in front of Guglielmo Vicario’s objective.
Despite missing out on eight Premier League starts due to injury over the past few months, the £30k-per-week star did show off some of his best attributes on the field, averaging 6.2 ball recoveries per game, winning 55% of his ground duels, and successfully completing 100% of his dribbles, according to Sofascore.
According to FBref, the six-foot-tall titan’s clearance percentage during the previous year in Europe’s top five leagues is within the top 1% of positional peers, demonstrating his tenacity and determined attitude to sweeping away danger.
The Cherries player is regarded as one of the best ball-playing center backs in English football, as the table above makes evident. Since Lisandro Martinez of Manchester United is the most similar player, it might be worthwhile to sign him.
Martinez was signed by the Red Devils for £57 million from Ajax in July 2022. He quickly established himself as one of the fiercest players on English soil, earning the nickname “animal” from his fellow countryman Emi Martinez.
Martinez has missed most of the action this season due to his absence on the sidelines, even though United hasn’t been playing well.
He had comparable growth ability to Kelly last season, winning 100% of his dribbles and 65% of his ground duels in the elite league.
However, he is in the top 4% of center backs in terms of successful takeaways and the top 6% in terms of tackles per ninety. The resemblance is further highlighted by the fact that Kelly can also put on “monster” performances.
How Spurs would integrate Lloyd Kelly
Kelly was often referred to as a “Rolls-Royce” by former Bournemouth boss and Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate. The dynamo was comfortable on the defensive flank and frequently used at left-back at the Vitality Stadium. Kelly would cover for Van van Ven and Udogie for Postecoglou.
It is important to remember that Tottenham’s disappointing league result from the previous season led to the team’s exclusion from European competition for the first time under Postecoglou’s leadership. Additionally, the fragility displayed by Van de Ven and Cristian Romero’s absences in recent months would have resulted in far more serious consequences given the additional pressure of playing midweek football on the continent.
Kelly’s contribution will be essential in this regard, helping to balance the many fronts, as the Lilywhites naturally hope to finish high this time around and return to Champions League or Europa League nights.
As previously indicated, he also provides a different style from Dragusin’s, and Postecoglou probably made this deliberate choice to preserve the cohesiveness of his team.
Spurs has obviously done their research on the player and may now move forward with talks to sign him for free at the end of the season. However, the entire focus needs to be on completing a deal.