Is the sale of Steven Caulker one of AVB's biggest transfer errors?
While the nation continued their debates regarding the future of English football and the different ways to improve it, Tottenham threw a cat amongst the pigeons by selling highly-rated English defender Steven Caulker last summer with their defence already looking flimsy.
The 21-year-old made 18 appearances for the north London club last season and looked to be the future of what Andre Villas-Boas was planning for the defence. The Portuguese coach enjoys his men to play a high line and to knock the ball about, and there are few who fit that better than the England international.
Coming from an athletic background, Caulker was rarely caught out when balls were played behind the defensive unit, and he also completed 90% of his attempted passes, which only Mousa Dembele and William Gallas surpassed.
His departure, and the release of Gallas, has left just Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen currently available to Villas-Boas in the central areas, as well as Vlad Chiriches who is settling into life at White Hart Lane.
While the Romanian has completed the last three games in the Premier League for Spurs, Caulker has played every minute for Cardiff this season and has shown why so many people questioned Villas-Boas for letting him leave.
In his most recent outing, not only did he score the winner in the first ever Premier League Welsh derby, he put in a sterling performance at the other end to keep the Swans out. Caulker stifled the visitors’ slick passing moves with two interceptions and winning three of his five headers, and he also completed 39 of his 39 passes.
Cardiff have struggled to shut teams out this season and have conceded 13 goals already, but Caulker’s collective performances have been nothing short of superb. Spurs, however, have been organised with their defensive duties and it’s resulted in just five goals being conceded – only Southampton have conceded less – so it would be a debatable suggestion that Tottenham will regret selling the centre-half, but there is potential that it may be the case.
Younes Kaboul is another man who is steadily making his return to first-team action after completing 120 minutes against Hull in the League Cup last week to add to his tally of Europa League appearances. In his two Europa League games he has averaged six defensive actions per game and completed 88% of his passes, as well as winning all three of his tackles and four of his seven headers.
With Kaboul, Dawson, Vertonghen and Chiriches all at the disposal of Villas-Boas, it’s hard to suggest where Caulker would have got a look in. He may be technically-brilliant and a hold a towering presence in the defence but his current position at the heart of the Cardiff backline is the perfect place for him. Cardiff will squeeze out the best out of the 21-year-old and see him progress into the talent that so many hope to see.