The Disappearance of Kevin Wimmer

Is Tottenham’s Kevin Wimmer the next in a long line of Mauricio Pochettino’s enforced squad absentees? Given he no longer appears an option in any matchday squads, this is beginning to seem more and more likely. It was a mere three months ago that Wimmer signed a new deal, securing his future at White Hart Lane until 2021.

Yet now, in the absence of an inured Toby Alderweireld, Wimmer officially appears to have fallen far back in the centre half pecking order. Despite speculation that Wimmer could start the Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen, it was always more likely that Eric Dier would fill in for the Belgian. However, the fact that Wimmer did not even make the bench surely indicates where he currently sits in Spurs’ plans.

Wimmer is familiar in his role as the left sided member of a central defensive pairing, and thus is the perfect back-up for Jan Vertonghen. As indeed he displayed last season, seamlessly slotting in across 9 Premier League matches. To such an extent did he impress that some even speculated Vertonghen may have difficulty winning back his spot. Whilst that was not the case, it appeared Tottenham had found a ready-made option to cover for the Belgian pairing (especially Vertonghen).

So why then does Wimmer appear to have been frozen out in recent times? The system Tottenham utilise has some effect on this. Spurs’ two central defenders are required to cover their respective fullbacks as these two players advance well up the pitch. This leaves the centre backs to at times perform the role of a hybrid centre/full back; while the defensive midfielder drops back to help out centrally. Since Vertonghen and Alderweireld are utilised as fullbacks in the Belgian national team, they are both perfect for such a role on the left and right respectively.

Wimmer is really only suited to the role that Vertonghen performs out of this duo; he has no experience on the right side of defence. So this limitation perhaps means that Pochettino favours more versatile alternatives to Wimmer on the bench, in the unfortunate event that Vertonghen was to become injured mid-match. Ben Davies, for example, can cover both at left full back (his primary position) and the left hand side of central defence, where again he has been utilised by his national side (Wales). Davies thus looks to be the first choice replacement should Vertonghen need to be removed, with the young Cameron Carter-Vickers, also on the bench in Germany, the emergency option.

The alternative option, the more sinister, is that Wimmer has stepped out of line and is no longer a part of Pochettino’s plans. We have seen this before, with the most recent example of Nabil Bentaleb. The Algerian went from key component in the heart of Spurs’ midfield two seasons ago, to training with the under 21 squad, loaned out to Schalke and assumedly never to return. Before that of course were the notorious cases of club Captain Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue and stalwart Aaron Lennon.

Wimmer however, does not appear the type of personality to cause a dressing room ruckus. Given his apparent closeness to the likes of Son Heung-Min and several other key players in the squad, it seems he will just need to bide his time. Spurs’ current schedule is intense and they will surely call on Wimmer to fill the left central defensive position in the League Cup clash with Liverpool next week.

That League Cup game will undoubtedly provide an indication as to where Wimmer stands.  If he plays, he is still in the frame and the left-sidedness is surely the only thing holding him back. In the unlikely event that he doesn’t start, it would provide conclusive evidence that he is no longer part of the squad. If Tottenham do want to keep Wimmer around then he will be hard to hold onto if not given significantly more playing time. The occasional League Cup game may not be enough in the long term.

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