With the summer transfer window rumour mill starting to gather speed, it would be easy to forget that Spurs actually completed the acquisition of Kevin Wimmer before the window technically opened. They weren’t the only ones of course to get some of their business done early but with Spurs reportedly on the verge of signing Atletico Madrid defender Toby Alderweireld, Wimmer does look like he’s gone under the radar.
The defensive side of our game was certainly something that all fans knew we needed to improve and its been great to see Pochettino bringing in talents with some Premier League experience (Trippier and hopefully Alderweireld) but this article focuses on the Austrian born man bought from Cologne, and what he can bring to this evolving Tottenham team.
Cologne were promoted into the Bundesliga at the beginning of last season, a return to the top flight for them which was built on a superb defensive record, as they conceded a mere 20 goals in 34 games. Promisingly, 22 year old Wimmer was at the heart of this defensive success and remained a regular for the start of the Bundesliga season, a season which would see him pitted against some truly world class players. Once again, he was the foundation at the back that helped Cologne finish in a comfortable 12th place in the Bundesliga,again with an excellent defensive record, the 5th best in the division. Stats like these are flattering and although of course Cologne’s success can’t all be down to Wimmer, encouraging signs are certainly there to be admired.
Looking further into the stats side of his game, Wimmer certainly has clear strengths but also clear weaknesses. Wimmer is described by most sources as tough, committed and superb in the air. Looking at his stats for last season, there is no reason to believe any different. In comparison to our other centre backs, he made 31 blocks over the course of the season (the most in the Bundesliga last season) 10 more than our highest Jan Vertonghen. He also won more aerial duels than Vertonghen and Dier over the course of the season, backing up the common feeling that he dominates in the air which works in his favour considering the reputation the Premier League has for it’s physicality.
However, based on this it would be wrong to assume that despite his tall stature and physically imposing presence, he can’t get about the pitch. He has the pace to cover for teammates which means he can also mix it up to keep up with the more pacey, tricky players that he will inevitably come up against.
At 22 years of age, there is plenty of time for Wimmer to iron out the weaknesses in his game, which seem to be the technical aspects. Looking at his distribution from the back, he has a disappointing 75.2% pass completion rate, compared to Vertonghen’s 85.1% and the much criticised Fazio’s 80%. However, he didn’t make a single defensive error last season which will put many fans minds at rest that he is calm and composed enough in possession to cope with the intensity of the Premier League.
Of course, stats are not everything and many fans will have a ‘let’s see him play’ before making any real judgment on if he is good enough. It would be wise to assume that Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches won’t be at the club next season which would push Wimmer closer to a starting place. However, his squad role in my opinion depends on whether Spurs get the deal to sign Alderweireld over the line. We have reportedly offered around 11 million for his services and with him having premier league experience and also having a good relationship with Belgian team mate Vertonghen, it would be expected that he goes straight into the starting line up.
This doesn’t mean Wimmer won’t get his chance to impress though, as Spurs once again have plenty of games in the Europa League to contend with and you would expect Wimmer to make his first foray into the first team picture in European games.
Based on his stats and reputation, it is clear we have signed a talented young centre back that can improve. Luckily, if there’s one man who knows how to get the best out of young talents its Pochettino (There have been plenty of examples of it this past season). Wimmer is certainly an improvement on the ageing Younes Kaboul and the calamitous Vlad Chiriches, and at 4.3 million, a very good signing. Let’s hope we see him enjoy many successes in North London.