A global Tottenham Hotspur podcast and viewpoint, by the fans for the fans.
by Atour Toma
In among the late winners and wonder saves this season, one of the unsung heroes of Tottenham Hotspur’s sensational run of recent weeks has been young centre-back Kevin Wimmer.
The Austrian international was signed last summer from FC Koln for a reported fee of £4.3m. The Bundesliga side had finished the 2014-15 season with the joint fifth best defensive record (despite finishing twelfth overall) and Wimmer had featured in 32 of their 34 league games that season.
Despite this he did not get much playing time at Spurs in the first few months of the season and only began featuring regularly for the side in late January.
Head coach, Mauricio Pochettino, was forced to break up arguably the league’s best centre-back partnership following an injury to Jan Vertonghen in a hard fought win away to Crystal Palace.
It’s fair to say that most Tottenham fans were deeply concerned at how well Wimmer would do in replacing Vertonghen, and the impact it would have on the club’s prospects of glory this season.
However the young Austrian performed admirably in an FA Cup third round tie against Colchester, paired up with Eric Dier, as Tottenham recorded an impressive 4-1 victory away from home.
Since then Wimmer has started every game alongside Toby Alderweireld, with the team losing just one game in eight, and only conceding four goals in the process.
Despite his obvious value to the team, the absence of Vertonghen has rarely been felt, and this can be put down in no small part to the accomplished performances of Wimmer at the back.
For a central defender, Wimmer has shown impressive composure with the ball at his feet, liking to play forward passes often and start attacks from the back. In fact, his pass success percentage of 88.9% puts him second only to Mousa Dembele of the regular starters at Spurs.
In addition, Wimmer has shown that he’s not afraid to put his body on the line for the cause, making numerous successful blocks and interceptions, all in the pursuit of another valuable clean sheet.
“Assuming things continue as they are, Vertonghen faces a real battle to win back his first team place..”
There are, of course, some areas with room for improvement, as expected for one so young. Considering he is a centre-back, Wimmer hasn’t proved himself to be the most proficient in the air thus far, averaging only 0.8 aerial duels won per game. In comparison, Danny Rose has won 1.1 per game, and Jan Vertonghen has won 2 per game. It is possible that Alderweireld has taken the lead in the air, while Wimmer sweeps things up afterwards, but even if this is the case his average is surprisingly low.
However despite this minor deficiency, there is no doubt that Wimmer has seized the opportunity presented to him with both hands and staked his claim for a regular first team place with a series of mature and capable performances.
In fact, assuming things continue as they are, Vertonghen faces a real battle to win back his first team place on his return from injury in a few weeks.
Pochettino has demonstrated many times in the past that he’s not afraid to keep faith with talented youngsters over senior players with a more established reputation.
And no matter who is Pochettino’s preferred first choice once Vertonghen comes back, Wimmer has successfully proved over the last few weeks that he’s a more than able alternative to the Belgian in a squad rotation system.
By that point Wimmer may be playing in a Tottenham side sat at the top of the Premier League table. And who would have thought that when he moved to White Hart Lane?