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With the 2020/21 domestic season now finished, attention has switched towards this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament.
The mammoth competition will see 24 different European nations involved, an increase of eight countries from previous editions, meaning there’s going to be more talent than ever on display across the one-month-long event.
Despite Tottenham still finalising the details of who will be their next manager, they will no doubt use the tournament as an opportunity to take a closer look at potential targets in elite competitive action.
We know irrespective of who comes in as Spurs boss, a new central defender will be high on the list of priorities, so here are three exciting players they could well be watching closely across the coming weeks in the big tournament.
Duje Caleta-Car – Croatia – 24
Duje Caleta-Car will be in action for Croatia at the tournament.
Caleta-Car nearly joined Premier League rivals Liverpool in January, but the lack of funds made available for Jurgen Klopp meant the move never materialised and he stayed with Marseille.
The Croatia international joined the Ligue 1 side in 2018 having played for Red Bull Salzburg, which is always a good sign. The Red Bull group are one of the leading lights in terms of recruiting and rearing talented prospects who often go on and flourish at top European sides.
Whether playing in a back four with Croatia, or a back three like he does on occasions with Marseille, the 24-year-old almost never looks phased and has a lot of likeable traits.
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He rarely goes to ground, is comfortable when dragged into wide areas and he does well in one-on-one situations. This point is captured by his standout defensive duel success rate of just below 70 per cent this season.
He tends to play on the left for club and country but is right-footed meaning he can play on the right with relative comfort. He’s a good passer of the ball and dominates most duels in the air which is in no small thanks to his impressive 6ft4in frame.
Pau Torres – Spain – 24
Villarreal defender Pau Torres has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs.
Torres put in a fine display against Manchester United three weeks ago as he helped his side go on to lift the Europa League trophy, and he will be hoping he can have the same impact for Spain in the coming month.
In that game, he was successful in 100 per cent of his aerial duels, 67 per cent of his ground duels and made a standout 10 interceptions.
His strong defensive skill set is enhanced by a good physical profile. Standing at an imposing 6ft 3in, he isn’t the most muscular, yet his mobility is good and you rarely see him lose out in duels with opposition attackers – he finished this season with a defensive duel success rate of just below 65 per cent.
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Not just proving strong out of possession, but he’s also calm and composed in it and had an impressive pass success rate of over 90 per cent from average of 53 passes per 90 last season.
If Spurs adopt a more ball dominating approach under their new boss, then he’d be the perfect defender to implement it.
However, he has been linked with several clubs across Europe, with Spurs' London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea both previously named among potential suitors.
Illya Zabarnyi – Ukraine – 20
Illya Zabarnyi could be a wildcard option.
Who should Spurs sign in defence? Comment below.
With both of the above names already on the radar of some big Premier League sides, Zabarnyi could well be a worthy up and coming prospect to invest in.
He’s been a regular within Dynamo Kyiv’s backline this season and has attracted plenty of plaudits for a number of standout displays both domestically and in Europe.
He possesses traits that are well valued in a defender, these being tall, standing at 6ft1in, strong but also able to keep pace with most opposition attackers in a foot race.
Like Torres, he’s also exhibited himself as a real asset on the ball, boasting a pass success rate of over 92 per cent last season from a fairly high 57.7 passes per 90.
These numbers were of course accumulated predominantly in a much inferior division when compared to the Premier League.
But if Zabarnyi can impress on the international stage at the age of just 20 in the coming weeks, then there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that he’s a talented player with a very high ceiling.