Eric Dier has found himself in the spotlight since his match-winner for England against Germany, but there is a key reason behind his progress.
There is plenty of competition for places in the Tottenham and England first team, and at the start of the season, Dier might have seemed like an unlikely choice.
However, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino identified something in his game which has transformed his chances of making it to the Euros.
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The Argentine manager raised a few eyebrows when he opted to move Dier from the defence to central midfield. However, he has provided an important covering role for their regular centre-backs, and has now shown he is capable of doing the same at international level.
Dier gives Hodgson a headache
While Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has stated that Jack Wilshere is still his number one choice in the position, Dier has given him plenty to consider ahead of the Euros.
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Pochettino has been instrumental in his development, and it appears he had noticed certain elements of Dier’s game long before others. The 22-year-old is excellent at breaking up play in the centre of the park, which has meant that Spurs are able to keep possession far more successfully than if he was a last-ditch defender.
Initially, it was thought moving him to central midfield was mainly motivated by the need to accommodate Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, Spurs’ first-choice centre-backs. Since Vertonghen’s knee injury, Kevin Wimmer has come into the side to fill the gap, which has allowed Dier to continue in his new role.
He has also played as a right-back previously, but Kyle Walker has owned that position. Dier is too good not to have in the side regularly, and his composure has made him the perfect choice to provide cover for the defence.
By changing his position, Pochettino has also increased his versatility. It is unclear whether this was something the Spurs boss always had in mind. When Dier arrived, the central midfield did not need much strengthening, and so it was intended that the former Sporting Lisbon youngster would be a utility man for the defence.
However, he had occasionally played in Lisbon’s midfield, which is perhaps why Pochettino was willing to risk him further up the field in the Premier League. Thanks to the likes of Christian Eriksen, Spurs' midfield already offers a lot going forward, so there is no pressure on Dier to be too creative.
Pochettino is excellent at assessing his squad, and will have taken his other central midfielders into account when deciding how to best fulfil the 22-year-old’s potential. Even if Nabil Bentaleb’s future is currently in question, Ryan Mason plays a similar role, but does not seem to have Dier’s confidence. Against Borussia Dortmund, Mason found himself under the spotlight for failing to create openings, and opting instead for the safe pass.
One of the greatest assets which Pochettino has nurtured in Dier is his fearlessness. As he showed against Germany, he is unfazed by top opposition, and that could make him a strong candidate to steal a place in the England side.
Do you think Eric Dier is England's best central midfielder? Have your say in the comments below!