Davinson Sanchez was one player who had a bit of a rollercoaster last season at Tottenham. The Colombian was playing in various competitions under Nuno Espirito Santo, but struggled to maintain consistency and made a number of mistakes.
However, just like so many Spurs players, Sanchez improved once Antonio Conte arrived and was often given the nod when one of his defensive teammates was absent. This was seen in the final three games of the season, with Cristian Romero out injured.
The 25-year-old played 90 minutes in the trio of crucial games, as Tottenham secured a top four spot in the Premier League. Not only did this earn him deserved praise from his boss, the Colombian has also started to prove his critics wrong, including one of his former coaches.
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In his 23 Premier League features last season, Sanchez produced 38 accurate long balls, made 54 clearances and 103 recoveries, playing in various roles across the back-line. It is never easy for a player to sit on the sidelines, but the Colombian admitted in December last year that he is always ready when needed.
“As for my position, I’ve been ready to play in every moment the manager needs me .. Even if you’re not playing, it does not mean you’re not going to be involved,” he admitted. “Football gives you chances all the time and it’s about that – being ready to take them when you’re needed.
“It’s all about work, when you’re working well and you are honest with your job it becomes easy, and you get what you deserve.” Sanchez’s latter performances in the last campaign also earned him deserved praise from Conte.
“I want to say that Patron Sanchez, he played his last game in the starting XI maybe two-and-a-half months ago and he worked a lot, he worked very well and to see him tonight have this performance makes me and my staff very happy. When you have these type of players like Sanchez and Joe Rodon, reliable players that whether they play or do not play they stay and work very hard, the coach and the staff are very happy, “the 52-year- old said.
It hasn’t all been smooth-sailing for Sanchez and he has had his fair share of critics over the years. Last September, former Colombia boss Jorge Luis Pinto provided a brutal verdict on the defender, after a poor run during the international break.
“Four years ago I told my son, who loves football, that Davinson is not a center-back for the Colombia national team. With all the respect that Davinson deserves, he is a healthy, correct, hardworking man and everything, but he doesn ‘t have the talent, the playing time – all those details that a center-back needs, “Pinto admitted.
“Davinson is an extraordinary human being, as the lads have told me. But he lacks that slow, balanced handling of the play, knowing how to correspond to the line of four. I have said that the line of four is a collective system – “It is not an individual action. It is a system of four and with the midfielders of six or eight players. And Davinson lacks that combination, that collective understanding.”
Just a few months ago, after the 25-year-old’s performance in Tottenham’s defeat to Wolves, Jermaine Jenas was also left unimpressed by Sanchez. “Davinson Sanchez today was shocking,” the former Spurs player said. “Body language is important in defense and you need leaders. [Their panicking] just adds to the panic in the stadium. “
The Colombian isn’t Spurs’ answer to making their defensive line world-class and he has struggled to find a place in the starting XI when Ben Davies, Romero and Eric Dier are all fit, which won’t be helped by new defenders who are likely to make the move to N17 this summer. However, as Conte has already admitted, Sanchez is a player he can rely on.
The 25-year-old has Premier League experience and has shown that he can step-up when needed. There are still mistakes in his game but the defender could hopefully continue improving under Conte, especially with the tough pre-season that is to come.
Therefore, it leaves Conte and Fabio Paratici in a transfer dilemma, over what to do, regarding Sanchez’s future at Spurs. If the likes of Rodon and Japhet Tanganga leave this summer, it would be more likely for the Colombian to stay, keeping options for the backline.
However, if there are a number of defenders who make the move to Tottenham, pushing the Colombian further down the pecking order, the 25-year-old may want to look elsewhere for more regular game time. It remains to be seen who stays and who leaves N17, but if Sanchez does remain, Conte knows he has a reliable player who is ready to step in once again when needed next season.