Tottenham Hotspur linked with steady Ligue 1 fullback: Right choice by Pochettino?

Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kieran Trippier is set to leave the club, with various reports suggesting a move away from the Premier League for the Englishman, as the likes of Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Napoli are all keen on signing him. This has resulted in Spurs searching for a replacement for Trippier, and the latest player linked with a move to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium is Marseille’s Hiroki Sakai, according to Sky Sports.

The Japanese international signed for the French club in 2016 and has been an important player for the side since. Transfermarkt rates him at around €8 million, which would be a bargain for the 29-year-old. Sakai’s contract with Marseille expires in two years time in 2021.

The right-footed player made 32 appearances in all competitions for the French club in the 2018-19 season, scoring 1 goal and providing 5 assists.

The experienced Japanese international has made over 100 appearances for the French side since signing from German club Hannover 96, where he played for four seasons. Sakai has also been a regular starter for the Japanese national side and has played 49 times for the national team, scoring one goal.

Is he the right choice for Pochettino?

Kieran Trippier has transformed into one of England’s best right backs, despite his dip in form in the 2018-19 season which saw him face severe criticism. With him leaving, Spurs will have to bring in a player of the same ilk, but Hiroki Sakai isn’t quite the player who can replace the Englishman.

Sakai can, at best, be a squad player, who could fill in for players who are out due to injury or suspension but cannot be Tottenham’s No. 1 right-back given the direction Spurs are headed right now. While he is a steady defender who can tackle well and is great in the air, Sakai isn’t as good as Trippier going forward. There have been reports that Tottenham’s other right-back, Serge Aurier, could also leave White Hart Lane in the summer. If that is the case, Spurs will have to look further than Sakai to fill the right-back slot.

Another aspect which could go against Sakai is that he is 29 years of age which means that he will have to start delivering right from the get-go which will mean added pressure. Considering all aspects, it will be wiser for Pochettino to explore other options if he is targeting a player to fill in as the first choice right-back.

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