Wouldn't be surprised to see clubs like Bayern and Juventus interested as well tbh. He's the type of player that would fit their tacical identity and we already know Bayern have been interested in the past.
He really is having an excellent season imo. He was always a good leader, but he seems to have taken on more responsibility in this department this season as well. Whether in midfield or defence a number of times I've seen him taking the onus on organising us at set pieces and offering encouragement and demanding focus when we're under the cosh.
“I want a photo with Eric,” shouts Mauricio Pochettino, breaking off from the walk to his press conference to bound outside, grab Eric Dier and pose, hugging him in the sunshine under a giant Spurs emblem. Later, a request to our photographer: can Mauricio have the picture? He loves Eric.
Dier did not need this interview to convince anybody at Tottenham about his bond with his boss, but he would like anxious fans to hear. Hear how, despite a difficult situation between them last winter, “my relationship with the manager has become even stronger for what we went through”.
The context is Pochettino’s newly-published book, Brave New World, a candid diary of last season whose serialisation caused a stir chiefly because of passages involving Dier. Pochettino described how, after Tottenham lost at Old Trafford last December, Jose Mourinho waited in the tunnel and hugged Dier. “They passed by me en route to the dressing rooms, laughing, speaking in Portuguese. Maybe it is a common Mourinho tactic, but he put Eric in a compromising position. You cannot do that after a defeat.”
Interest from United in signing Dier had “destabilised” him, influencing a loss of form, Pochettino also wrote.
Dier is keen to be candid too. “What needs to be clarified,” he says, “is that this is something that happened last Christmas. The book is a very honest account, and it’s nice for fans to have that insight about what goes on, that it’s not all lovey-dovey, but context is important. This was last Christmas. The book has come out now, so it has resurfaced, but for a long time my relationship with the manager has been great. It’s always been very good. Obviously, you can’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but if anything our relationship is stronger for what we went through together.”
The day after tunnelgate, Dier was in Pochettino’s office for four hours. They talked “for a very long time,” Dier says ruefully, “and all of that week, really, we were in constant dialogue. It was a difficult week for me.
“The manager’s point of view was [the friendliness with Mourinho] was disrespectful to him. [The dialogue] was more him getting that message across than me getting my message across.” But at Old Trafford he had been in an awkward situation.
“I grew up in Portugal. Portuguese people are very proud and it’s a small country. It doesn’t have the economic power of a country such as England, so people like Mourinho, Ronaldo, they’re extremely proud of it. Growing up there I was within all that, you know? I didn’t want to be disrespectful to anyone. I completely understand where the manager was coming from but I believe I was stuck in the middle of something I couldn’t really affect.”
All is addressed in Dier’s straight, articulate, often wryly humorous way. He is reclining on a sofa at Tottenham’s training ground, pausing to tease a passing Christian Eriksen, clearly in a workplace he adores. He really would not want supporters to read the Brave New World extracts out of context, and imagine he had wanted to leave. His explanation for last season’s difficult start is frank.
Think of Dier’s 2015-16. He was 21. He asserted himself as one of Tottenham’s mainstays, in central midfield. He became an England player and played 61 matches, culminating in Euro 2016. “A crazy amount of games. I’d never played anywhere near that amount and the Euros, though ending badly, was an incredible experience. After that you have a very limited holiday and when I returned for pre-season my mindset wasn’t right. I was mentally tired. I wasn’t ready to put my whole body into it again.
“It probably took six months — January, February — for my football to get better and a lot was my fault, my attitude, and that didn’t have anything to do with Man United.
“I just didn’t have the commitment, the workrate I should have had, and communication with the manager about the whole situation wasn’t good. But never did Man United . . . never did it turn my head. I was never thinking, ‘I need to go.’
“There was so much to it and everything accumulated and was like a big snowball and that’s where it ended up exploding. If we’d communicated better we’d have avoided that. I learnt so much from the whole experience and I think the manager did as well.”
Talking allowed Pochettino and Dier to get everything out in the open. One aspect to emerge was just how highly the manager rates his player. You signed a five-year contract, you can be the best centre-back in the Premier League, you are absolutely not leaving, was Pochettino’s message.
It was what Dier wanted to hear. “I’ve always been so happy at Tottenham,” he says. “There have been moments like January built out of frustration but never a period where I wasn’t happy. I say it to friends and family, that I think it’s very difficult to be in a group like we have here where — and every single word of this is honest — I don’t have a single problem with one player in the dressing room. And that’s true of the whole team. We really connect as individuals. It’s something special because it happens so rarely in football and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve never thought of leaving.”
Best centre-back? Maybe until then Dier was looking upon himself as a holding midfielder but Pochettino has opened his mind about his playing position. Or rather reopened, because during his development at Sporting Lisbon, Dier was encouraged to learn various roles: centre-back, central midfield and right-back.
“Positionally? There’s so much we could talk about,” he says, “but the first thing I want to get across is that versatility, for me, is never a negative. Especially if you’re a young footballer where the most important thing is to play as many games as possible and learn.
“Secondly, I hate the word ‘utility’. That word just kills me. In the book, the manager touches on it. When we had those conversations, I said that playing as defensive midfielder had given me so much more than playing as centre-back. I’d made my England debut there, had a really good season for Tottenham there.
“But he said to me a very nice compliment, that I could go on to be the best centre-back in the country. And I believe that I can be.
“I believe I can be the best centre-back in the country and I believe that I can be the best defensive midfielder in the country. That’s why I hate the word ‘utility.’ Because what I always strive to do is, when I play as a centre-back, I play as a centre-back. And when I play as a defensive midfielder, I play as a defensive midfielder.
“I don’t play as a centre-back trying to play midfield, or as a midfielder playing centre-back. And whichever position it is, I want to be the best.
“One of the big things that came out of the conversation with the manager is that whatever position I’m playing, ‘your commitment and your aggression need to be there. Eric Dier needs to be Eric Dier.’ I’ve tried to take that into the season.
“I take inspiration out of players such as Philipp Lahm, an unbelievable footballing brain, fantastic at full-back or in midfield. Or Javier Mascherano.
“In foreign countries there are many players like that. And football is now an 11-man game, becoming so fluid, where players interchange and play in any role. But in England,” he laughs, “versatile players get tarnished with the ‘utility’ brush.”
Dier feels totally different this season. Older, wiser, and having had a longer holiday, his appetite, his zest, his focus and quality have been evident from day one — and Wednesday’s defeat of Real Madrid, in which he excelled in midfield, then moved back to excel in defence after Toby Alderweireld’s injury, showcased his, ahem, utility.
Beating Real was “another step” in Spurs’ journey, Dier says. Pochettino has been talking to them about ascending Everest. They are high on the slopes and the summit has to involve winning, but they must remember to stick together and enjoy the climb.
We finish by chatting about his hobby, architecture. He and Pochettino are alike. Brave New World reveals the manager’s interest in poetry and the spiritual. Dier, too, is an individual of depth.
Dier attended David Yarrow’s fine art photography exhibition recently and needs to sate a creative side. “I get it from my mum,” he says. “She works for an architect company and I enjoy art and design and that’s my passion outside football. It’s important to keep your mind active in different ways.”
In the building of Tottenham here is one foundation block precious to Pochettino. Dier is going nowhere, except maybe in a picture frame on the manager’s desk.
Tottenham will have a collection for the Royal British Legion at today’s match against Crystal Palace, followed by an auction of signed match-worn Poppy shirts. They have given 600 tickets to the Tickets for Troops initiative
I'm surprised anyone still questions his inclusion in our squad, he showed Wednesday how useful he is when slotted from mid-field into the back 3 seamlessly. He's young & still learning & he will make mistakes, but like the other young players we have he a key member of our squad.
bottm line is we bought him as a CB, but a versatile defensive player. As I recall he’s first few games I remember him a RB stint! Then we needed a DMF and he did that so well he got an England call up in that position. My personal opinion is he is best at the DM role but is a versatile defensive player and will do a job whenever we need him, and that’s great to have.