MAURICIO POCHETTINO is closing in on his fourth defensive summer signing as Tottenham Hotspur boss after the club agreed a fee with Villarreal for highly-rated Argentine centre-back Mateo Musacchio.
The new Spurs boss, appointed manager back in May, has wasted no time this summer in recruiting fresh blood for his back line. Along with goalkeeper Michel Vorm, Pochettino has swooped for Ben Davies, Eric Dier and now Musacchio as he looks to plug a defence which conceded 51 goals last season.
The fee for the 23-year old is believed to be around £17 million and is seen as a major coup for the club with Musacchio voted the best centre-back in Spain last season.
Despite that, however, he is a relative unknown in European football. So what makes him stand out?
A defender during his playing days, Pochettino has followed the career of fellow compatriot Musacchio very closely ever since Villarreal were relegated to the Segunda Division back in 2012.
They were promoted back to La Liga at the first time of asking and ended up in seventh place last season with Musacchio impressing many with a number of man of the match performances.
A graduate from River Plate’s academy when he was younger, Musacchio moved to Spain when he was 18 and impressed his new club so much they promoted him to the senior side less than a year later. He has been there ever since and has even captained the Yellow Submarines.
The Rosario-born defender is an ideal signing for Pochettino due to their similar playing styles. With Jan Vertonghen as his defensive partner Spurs have finally found a pairing which will be a match for any side in the league.
Musacchio’s instincts are extremely impressive, with his ability to step out of defence to clear danger a vital aspect in the way that Pochettino set’s up his side.
During the 2013-2014 season Musacchio made more interceptions than any other defender in Spain with 108. That is an average of 3.4 per game. Considering Vlad Chiriches was Tottenham’s best with 2.48 per game it is no surprise that the Lilywhites are so desperate to close the deal.
When interviewed over the weekend, Villarreal manager Marcelino expressed his disappointed at losing his star asset:
“Things will change quite a lot for this team. The quality and level of [Musacchio] will make it difficult to find a replacement,” he said.
“It’s always more complicated to adapt the team to a new defender than to a forward or midfielder and it’s not easy, at this level, to find a new defender. It won’t be easy to replace him”.
Musacchio brings a whole new approach to the Tottenham side with the way he plays the game. Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul are renowned for kicking the ball into touch when snuffing out any sort of danger, however Musacchio is completely different. Unlike the other two he doesn’t make panicky clearances or rash decisions and his composure on the ball is second to none. Every time the ball falls to his feet in the penalty area he will look up ready to find a forward player which suits Pochettino’s belief in quick, counter-attacking football.
After spending heavily last summer on attacking talent, Chiriches was Tottenham’s only defensive signing, the back-line deficiencies of Spurs were regularly shown, with a number of big losses.
With that in mind it was always the club’s intentions to plug the gaps this summer. Ageing centre-backs Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul have regularly been in the treatment room over the last few years and it is rumoured that the club are looking to sell the pair.
Musacchio’s arrival will be music to the ears of Spurs fans. Even though £17 million sounds a lot to spend on a centre-back it could become a shrewd piece of business for the White Hart Lane club.