Ben Davies, Tottenham, and sweet left-back relief 2

Here’s a tough pub-quiz question: name Tottenham’s last reliable left-back.

And no, Benoit Assou-Ekotto doesn’t count.

The Mirror reporting that Spurs have agreed an £8m fee for Swansea City’s Ben Davies and that should, if true, spell the merciful end of Danny Rose’s time in the first-team.  Rose is a strange player; during a Tottenham season during which most of the squad devalued themselves, he had moments when he looked like a passable option for a top-six team - but they were fleeting and very rarely involved any actual defending.

And that’s the biggest with Rose -  he is the archetypal modern British full-back who only looks comfortable when he crosses the halfway line. Take the ball away from him and make him hold a defensive-line around his own penalty-box, and then you see him for what he really is: a frustrated winger who has never been taught how to properly defend.

Ben Davies is not a complete player yet, so be wary of thinking otherwise.  He has moments of naivety and is capable of looking vulnerable against top-quality opponents, but the fundamentals of his game are far superior to Rose’s - even if they haven’t been fully developed yet.  Davies has a defensive instinct which seems almost archaic in full-backs now and with a little more exposure to the Premier League he could well become one of the top five players in his position within the next few years.

That’s not to say that he’s overly defence-orientated, because he’s actually deceptively adept with the ball at his feet and is also a hugely impressive athlete with enormous stamina.  He is a defender who can attack, not a wide-midfielder who resentfully has to defend - there’s a big difference between those two.

Danny Rose is a decent footballer, but he’s never really been a full-back.  He’s someone who was, unfortunately, forced to convert himself into the role for the sake of getting pitch-time and a player like that will always struggle to have a natural ‘feel’ for his new position.  Remember when Alan Smith reinvented himself as a midfielder at Manchester United?  Well that’s Danny Rose: he always looks like he’s playing full-back from an instruction manual.  There’s an awkwardness to him and a overwhelming lack of nous.

Ben Davies is definitely a step in the right direction and, for just £8m, Tottenham would be getting a very good deal.  But just be patient, because there are still holes in his game and it might not be immediately obvious just how much of an upgrade he is.

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