Analysis

Takehiro Tomiyasu: The 22-year-old Bologna defender Tottenham are keen on signing this summer

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A lot is going on at Tottenham these days but one load off Daniel Levy’s mind will be the signing of Nuno Espirito Santo as the new manager of the club. Fabio Paratici, who was appointed as the new director of football at Tottenham Hotspur earlier in June, has been looking to recruit exciting talents for the club, with Spurs needing reinforcements in defence and in the forward area.

While a search for the latter could go on for a while, Tottenham have already started their recruitment process for the defence as they have made an official bid of £15.5 million for Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, who is currently plying his trade at Bologna. However, Bologna have rejected that bid as they are holding out for at least £17.2 million for the versatile defender.

Who is Takehiro Tomiyasu?

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Tomiyasu started his career in Japan itself with Avispa Fukuoka, a club in the J1 League. He made it through the club’s youth set up and finally joined the senior team in 2016. Not the fastest player in the world, but Tomiyasu’s versatility was the factor most of his coaches were impressed with. In 2018, he made the move to first division Belgian club Sint-Truiden and developed other facets of his game. This was his first foray into European football, but he quickly adjusted to the technical as well as the physical aspects of the game.

After a solid year and a half, Tomiyasu signed for Italian club Bologna for £6.30 million, which was considered a steal, given that he was Sint-Truiden’s best player at the time. Italy is the best country to develop defenders, and Tomiyasu knew this going in. In the last 3 years, the quality of Italian football has increased as more and more managers have been pursuing attacking football. This has led to defenders in Serie A needing to be more quick, agile, and tactically sound than before. 

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The Japanese defender developed quickly, while he also started playing at right-back a lot. Given his stature, Tomiyasu was always slotted into the center-back role, but given Bologna’s influx of talent in that position, they wanted to find a position for the Japanese without removing him from the starting lineup. Unsurprisingly enough, Tomiyasu excelled in that role as he scored 2 crucial goals from that position against Atlanta and Udinese respectively. 

In his 2 seasons at the club, Tomiyasu made 60 appearances in all competitions and helped Bologna to a 12th placed finish on both occasions. A very talented centre-back and Bologna are now rightly demanding almost thrice the money (£17.2 million) they paid for him in 2019. 

Why do Tottenham need the Japanese defender?

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As per recent reports, Toby Alderweireld has asked to leave the club as he wants to win trophies and does not have many more years at the top. Tottenham are also looking to offload Serge Aurier as they feel the right-back is past his best days, while PSG are interested in reuniting with the player. Japhet Tanganga was consistent during Jose Mourinho’s time at Tottenham, but it still has to be seen whether Nuno looks at him as a starting defender.

Davinson Sanchez, who will be the most experienced centre-back at the club if Alderweireld leaves, has shown that he is a solid defender, but has his rash moments, which have cost Spurs dearly in crucial moments over the last 2 years.

Thus, this is the long and short of the problem, and it will not be the worst thing in the world to sign a stable defender, who can calm the chaos that is Tottenham’s defence right now. Takehiro Tomiyasu can deputise in the centre-back role, but Spurs are eyeing the Japanese as a player who could start games in the right-back role. Although Tomiyasu cannot produce lung-bursting overlapping runs, he will ensure a stable defence and will allow the left-back to maraud ahead freely due to his conservative nature.

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Unlike the current options at right-back for Tottenham in Aurier and Matt Doherty, Tomiyasu can pass the ball with relative ease and incredible composure. The 22-year-old was completing 50 passes per 90 minutes with a completion rate of 82.7%. Those are decent numbers for a right-back, although he can always improve. Tomiyasu’s most impressive stat was 0.4 dribbles against per 90 minutes, indicating that he was a tough man to pass or dribble through.

A focused defender, Tomiyasu can read the game well, evidenced by his 2 interceptions per 90 minutes last season. These are encouraging numbers for Nuno Espirito Santo, who will be looking for a defender that can start every game for him. Additionally, Tomiyasu has always adjusted seamlessly to a new country, so Tottenham will not have to worry about settling him down into the team. 

Nuno Espirito Santo has a massive job in his hands, but he has shown previously with Wolves that he can create a very good team that can produce some of the most attractive football on any given day. While all that does not happen in one day, the first step for Tottenham would be to recruit properly and cleverly and Takehiro Tomiyasu will certainly fall under that bracket, should he join Spurs this summer, something that is looking increasingly likely by the day.

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