The Background on Spurs New Boy - Davinson Sanchez
In signing twenty-one-year-old Colombian international fullback Davinson Sanchez, the 2016/17 Premier League runners up have made a true statement of intent after a relatively quiet summer. Standing 6’2, Sanchez is a commanding presence at the back, but he came from humble beginnings. Born in Caloto, a town in north eastern Colombia, Sanchez’ prodigious skills in the beautiful game meant that he was able to make the coveted move south to Cali while still a youth.
As an industrial hub and producer of many football talents, the city proved the making of Sanchez. After surviving the culls of América de Cali’s youth academy, Sanchez transferred to the youth setup of perennial title favourites Atlético Nacional (A.N). Upon arrival, he was mentored to greatness by Juan Carlos Osorio, who is currently manager of the Mexican national team. Despite having his own playing career being catastrophically cut short by injury at the age of just twenty-six, Osorio’s renegade training methods have enabled him to build an impressive record as a coach and assistant manager in two different continents.
Sanchez was promoted to the A.N first team in 2013, and made his debut for the reigning champions in October that year. Though it was a losing debut, Sanchez was a constant presence at the back in his subsequent appearances, making some crucial tackles and interceptions against far more seasoned professionals. His consistency at the back enabled A.N to win the TorneoApertura twice and the TorneoFinalización once in the space of three seasons, and it was only a matter of time before the big guns of Europe began calling. In 2016, it was Ajax’s turn to court the defensive prodigy. The club did so successfully, signing Sanchez in the belief that he could add an extra degree of defensive solidarity, which would re-establish Ajax as the dreaded Dutch superpower it once was.
Though Ajax failed to win the title in 2016/17, Sanchez’ impact was instantaneous. For the second consecutive season, Ajax conceded less than twenty-five goals, and finished with a goal difference of +56. For Sanchez, the added bonus of a run to the Europa League final at such a young age does him further credit. However, as evidenced by the dominant nature of Manchester United’s win over Ajax in that final, the physical demands of the Dutch top flight pale greatly in comparison to those of its English counterpart. With Sanchez’ total Premier League game time barely amounting to a minute so far, the more sceptical amongst Tottenham’s fan base may question why Mauricio Pochettino has opted to spend a rumoured £42m GBP on Sanchez.
Where home form is concerned, the statistics do not lie, and for a squad of Tottenham’s quality, they are thoroughly damning. In six competitive games at Wembley (spanning two seasons), Tottenham have yet to keep a clean sheet at their temporary home. Pochettino’s men have also won just once as the ‘home’ side at Wembley, with that match being an inconsequential 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow. At the back, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen boast ample experience, and an average age of twenty-nine between them – around the age at which most professionals peak. However, though they are already established in the Premier League, recent performances have seen them both lapse defensively and squander vital points. Most recently, two points were sickeningly dropped in the dying embers of injury time against Burnley, and now all the latest football betting odds show a slight lengthening of Tottenham’s title odds.
Pochettino will undoubtedly spend much of the international break drafting alternate starting lineups to ponder as the games mount up and the pressure to achieve increases. Depending on how much activity takes place before the end of the transfer window, Sanchez may figure prominently in those differential team setups. Though unaccustomed to the physical demands of the Premier League, Sanchez is well known for his good distribution and game reading ability. His card-per-game rate is encouragingly low, and his continued presence in the squad of eighteen will give the current back two of Alderweireld and Vertonghen a very real incentive to perform. In 2016/17, Sanchez achieved a pass completion rate of 89%, compared to the 84% average made by both of his positional rivals. Sanchez also made more than twice as many successful interceptions as Alderweireld last season.
Ultimately, Sanchez can expect a far greater degree of involvement in Champions League matches as squad rotation becomes a weekly consideration for Pochettino. In the more difficult phases of Tottenham’s looming European games, Sanchez’ distinctly ‘continental’ style of defending may provide the element of surprise his team needs, if they are to avoid another early Champions League elimination. The Lilywhites face a challenging trip to Goodison Park in their next league outing, on 9 September, with a newly fired-up Wayne Rooney set to lead the line for the hosts.
Tamhas Woods is a BJTC-accredited sports journalist with a Masters in Journalism from Staffordshire University.
Disclaimer: Please note the words on this page are the opinion
of the topspurs columnist and are just that, opinions, not facts and are nothing
to do with Tottenham Hotspur Football club PLC. Just a supporter having his
say nothing more nothing less. Any commentary on betting is meant for
discussion purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or