Tottenham may be presented with a chance to solve their right-back problem thanks to Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur’s desperate need for a new right-back has been apparent since Kieran Trippier was offloaded to Atletico Madrid with no replacement signed.
Jose Mourinho favoured Serge Aurier in the position last term, but the Ivorian was something of a liability due to the sheer number of blunders made and could be sold to AC Milan this summer.
A number of potential right-back options for Spurs have been mooted over the past few weeks, with Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles recently named as a target.
The 22-year-old is versatile and believed to be a favourite of Mourinho’s. But Arsenal slapped a £20 million asking price on the player, as per the Daily Mail.
Now, however, it seems Maitland-Niles is on the brink of spurning Tottenham’s supposed interest to sign for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Athletic’s David Ornstein claims Maitland-Niles will join for the Molineux outfit this week as he searches for the regular first-team football he is currently being denied at the Emirates Stadium.
There could, however, still be a positive result from this situation for Spurs.
Wolves’ signing of Maitland-Niles from Arsenal may free up Matt Doherty to leave Molineux this summer, with the Republic of Ireland international potentially an even better fit for Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur side.
Doherty has been a revelation for Wolves since their promotion to the Premier League two years ago. Last season saw the 28-year-old make 49 appearances in all competitions for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, scoring six goals and recording four assists.
It’s now difficult to imagine a Wolves team without Doherty down the right flank.
While Mourinho is renowned for his defensive and conservative tendencies, he likes his full-backs to push high up the pitch to provide an outlet.
Aurier does this, explaining why the Spurs manager has stood by the Ivorian even as the crescendo for him to be dropped grew louder.
Doherty plays even higher up the pitch than Aurier, with the Irishman a fully-fledged wing-back in Nuno’s system which frequently sees Wolves play with a back three.
Doherty is one of the reasons Wolves are able to play this way. A back three is a difficult thing to master, but in the Irishman, they have someone who suits this system perfectly.
This reveals the goal threat the right wing-back carries, explaining his goal tally for the 2019/20 season – there aren’t many in Doherty’s position who can claim to be so dangerous in front of goal.
Wolves’ game is very dependent on spinning their attacking players in behind defences and Doherty helped in this respect by playing 1.3 long balls per game last season.
Mourinho has shown a willingness to get his wide men, in particular, to play in this way, with Harry Kane dropping deep to release space in behind. Doherty could help with the implementation of this specific game plan.
Mourinho has a lot of work to do in reshaping the squad at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to his liking.
There are a number of areas where his team are currently lacking and with the noises out of Spurs that any transfers will have to be done on a shoestring budget.
In Doherty, though, Mourinho would find a player to solve one of his biggest problems. The only issue may be the price.