Eric Dier: how the Englishman has grown into a Tottenham lynchpin

Eric Dier has signed a new five year contract extension, tying him to the club until 2021.

Dier, 22, joined Tottenham from Sporting CP in the summer of 2014 in a £5m deal and has quickly established himself from a utility defensive player into a critical midfield lynchpin during Spurs’ 2015/16 title challenge.

The English defender with the footballing brain of a Portuguese playmaker, we analyse just how Dier’s meteoric rise through the Tottenham ranks has unfolded.

Eric Dier’s growth

Eric’s arrival on White Hart Lane was one that may well have gone under the radar for much of the football world in the August of 2014.

With his modest fee, coupled with a seemingly unsuccessful loan spell at Everton’s academy, you’d be permitted to think that the expectation levels for this signing were modest. Whilst people were well aware that he could grow into a prominent player at the club, he was largely consigned as being ‘one for the future’.

Surprisingly to many, Eric’s Tottenham career started with a bang, as his two maiden appearances saw him become an unlikely goalscoring hero; netting a late winner on his first Spurs debut before heading home on his first match at White Hart Lane in the 4-0 rout of Queens Park Rangers.

Despite this initial rise to prominence, Dier largely featured as a defensive utility player, filling in for team mates in the centre back and fullback positions as he acclimatised to the English game of football; making a total of 28 league appearances and failing to add to his collection of two goals.

Dier has netted five league goals for Spurs

Flourishing in the midfield

Dier’s maiden season at White Hart Lane may well have been a process of acclimatisation to the rigours of Premier League, however, his desire to exceed at the club was apparent for all to see.

Risking the potential of irking fans and the media alike, Eric declined an invitation to join up with the England U21s squad; insistent on his desire to work on his own game on the Tottenham Hotspur training ground.

This hunger for growth didn’t just limit itself to a meticulous work rate on the training field under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino.

At 6’2″, Dier arrived on the scene as a 20 year old boy that had yet to fully grow into his body. Come August 2015, Eric had grown into a barrel chested athlete ready to compete physically with anybody on the pitch.

And it wasn’t just his physicality that had had changed come the new season.

Pochettino identified the Englishman’s ball playing capabilities as untapped resource at the club, leading to a tactical adjustment that would prove a catalyst for an emphatic 2015/16 campaign.

Dier’s transition to midfield enforcer provided a crucial platform for both Spurs’ unrivalled attacking and defensive balance within the league.

Dier has won 12 England Caps during his time at Tottenham Hotspur

His relationship with the Belgian duo of new boy Toby Alderweireld and now stalwart Jan Vertonghen saw a defensive triad that proved critical to the team’s exceptional league form as the club conceded just 35 goals.

His role as enforcer was also crucial to the team’s aggressive forward play, his midfield partners able to express themselves in the final third with greater freedom; safe in the knowledge that there would always be sufficient defensive cover in place should an attack break down.

And the data corroborates the assertion of just how important Eric has been to the Tottenham midfield, boasting the team’s most successful passes, second most interceptions and third most tackles and blocks.

Whilst midfield maestro Mousa Dembele and his PIC Dele Alli may have won much of the end of season plaudits, Eric has quietly established himself as an invaluable asset within the Pochettino system.

The importance of the deal

The Spurs fanbase have had to come to terms with the heartbreak of losing star players too often in recent history.

However, the club’s hierarchy has worked meticulously in ensuring that lessons have been learnt from the mistakes of the past with Dier joining the likes of Alli, Dembélé and Wimmer in signing new contracts for the club; hopefully warding off the unwanted advances of any circling vultures intent on preying on contracts approaching their end date.

With the news that Dier has committed his long-term future to the club, it seems the team’s defensive solidity will be in safe hands for a long time to come.

Let’s celebrate by indulging in the greatest bromance in football history.

Written by Joe Thomas

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