Tottenham set to make surprise move for English central defender

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Kieran Harm
Football and NFL Writer. Specialising in the Premier League and Bundesliga

According to The Sun, Tottenham Hotspur are set to move for Sheffield United’s English centre-half, Jack O’Connell. The 25-year-old has been a massive part of a Sheffield United team that has defied all expectations so far this season – they currently sit 8th in the Premier League table, one point behind Man United in fifth.

Tottenham and Sheffield United worlds apart defensively

One of the most impressive elements of Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United team has been the defensive line. The back five have been incredible all season and as a result, only Liverpool (9) have kept more clean sheets than the Blades (8).

That comes with stark contrast to the defensive form of their North London counterparts. Tottenham have managed just three clean sheets in the league all season long – the joint lowest number in the entire league.

tottenham target and Sheffield United defender Jack O'connell
Jack O’Connell is subject to interest from a lot of top teams this winter, could he be tempted to leave Bramall Lane?

While Tottenham have some stars across their back-line and a famously defensive head coach, they’ve struggled for consistency at the back of late. O’Connell would offer them a tougher, more disciplined option in that defensive line.

Standing at six foot three inches tall, O’Connell offers a significant aerial presence in both boxes. When compared with Tottenham’s number one centre-half and his would-be partner, he has won almost double the amount of aerial battles Toby Alderweireld has won this season (101-55), having played one game more.

O’connell also offers a threat at the other end of the pitch too – and works very well as one of the fabled “over-lapping centre-backs” employed by Chris Wilder at Sheffield United. This season, O’Connell has completed more forward passes and created double the amount of “big chances” as his Tottenham counterpart, Alderweireld.

Should O’Connell be in line for an international call up?

This season, Sheffield United fans have been adamant the defender should be in line for an England call up given the defensive problems of the international teams. Having watched him play, it’s hard to disagree – and a move to one of the big six would almost guarantee him that opportunity in the near future.

He should, in all fairness, be afforded the opportunity regardless of what team he plays for – but we all know that he, and everybody else, is more likely to be overlooked if the team they play for isn’t one of the classic top six sides.

Is it a good move?

This move, for me, is a great one for Tottenham if they can pull it off. He will offer them the stability and presence at the back that they’ve clearly lacked all season long. From the players perspective, it’s a move that will no doubt tempt him – especially with the European championships looming in the near future.

For Sheffield United though, allowing their star centre-half to leave halfway through the season makes little to no sense, and I don’t think they would be silly enough to do so with less than a week remaining in the window. If Spurs offered enough though, they may be tempted – after all, every player has a price.

Is O’Connell what Spurs need?

Despite all their troubles at the back this season, I’m not so sure a central defender is exactly what Tottenham should be prioritising right now in the window given the loss of Harry Kane to injury.

They’ve been linked with just about every possibly available striker on the planet, many of whom we have reported on, but they are yet to sign a replacement for Kane either on a short term or long term basis. To me, that’s where the transfer focus should be in North London at this point in time.

Should Spurs go after O’Connell? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. For more like this, visit our football page here and follow us on Twitter for coverage of the Premier League and the rest of the transfer window.

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