The winter window can’t truly begin without a transfer that catches most off guard due to the players and clubs involved. While Eric Dier’s Bayern move could count as well, Radu Drăguşin’s move to Tottenham is a fantastic piece of business. Outside of Serie A fanatics, not many knew about this promising Romanian, but he’s sure to take the Prem by storm.
Tottenham have already been involved in two of the most intriguing moves thus far. Dier’s move is weird, and only makes sense due to Kane, but Drăguşin may be a defensive cornerstone.
Juventus fans have known about the defender for a few years now, seeing him debut in Italy back in 2020. Despite Juve’s chaos, Drăguşin was never given a fair shot and would end up two years on loan before joining Genoa in 2023. After a good end to the season, the defender stood out as one of Serie A’s best defensive leaders in the first half of the 23/24 season.
Postecoglou’s side has been fluid and fun to watch when they’re attacking, but dreadful in the back. They’ve shipped almost 30 goals, rivaling the likes of Crystal Palace and Everton in goals allowed. None of the defensive lineups have worked and they desperately need a shot in the arm.
Moving to the Prem requires a player to be able evolve in all manners of their game. Some positions find that evolution difficult, but for a defender, moving from Italy to the Prem isn’t terrible.
During his time in Turin, Drăguşin excited Juve fans by promising to be the future of their backline. His game reminded fans of Juve’s BBC backline that shut out Europe’s best attacks.
Looking at his game, Drăguşin has shades of each player. Bonucci’s physicality and size mixed with Barzagli’s calming presence on ball, topped off with Chiellini’s ability to stop any attack. Drăguşin is not truly elite at any one of these skills, but it’s a great combination.
Until his move, Drăguşin led a tough Genoa defense that was performing well for their expectations. It’s not been the most impressive of sides, but his age and experience allows Tottenham to envision a future where Drăguşin is one of the Prem’s best defenders.
One of the best aspects of his game is his reading of attacks and that’s seen in his elite interception rate. The elite ball reading is also seen in the fact that only one player has dribbled past him this season. Even if his tackling success rate is mediocre, there’s hope that with another ball stopper next to him that it could boost those numbers.
Like his Juve predecessor Chiellini, Drăguşin is a menace in the opponent’s box. Amongst Serie A defenders, he stands near the top of the list in terms of shots and chance creating opportunities. His frame lets him overpower defenders and latch onto corners.
To fully succeed in the Prem, Drăguşin has to improve at building out of the back. While he moved the ball forward, his numbers were rather pedestrian in terms of passing completion even with lesser attempts. There needs to be that confidence to play out of the backline and trust in your ability, Drăguşin plays it safe too often.
With the experience of playing in one of the best leagues for defenders, Drăguşin profiles as an exciting prospect for any top club. It’s not hard to see a future where Juve, and other top clubs, regret missing out on the Romanian.
Consistency in the backline has to have been on top of every Tottenham fans’ wishlist. Drăguşin is not going to fix everything right away, but he will help ease the situation.
Over the past few weeks, Tottenham’s starting two center backs have been two fullbacks forced into the center. On this roster as a whole, there are only two natural center backs, excluding Drăguşin. Micky van de Ven came with plenty of promise, after two solid seasons with Wolfsburg, but injury has kept him out for most of the season.
Another Juve castaway, Cristian Romero, arrived in London from Italy with plenty of top flight experience but concerns remain over his transition to the Prem. Romero has become Tottenhm’s best defensive move in years, as he has been entrusted to lead this side. Injuries and suspension have continued to keep the Argentine out, but when he’s available, Romero is a top center back.
Postecoglou’s system is in place, but the pieces are lacking. By partnering Romero or van de Ven with Drăguşin, the foundations are starting to form.
Perhaps the only issue facing this defense is the awkward fit of these players in a more traditional four man backline. When Drăguşin makes his debut, he will almost surely be partnered with Ben Davies to have a right footed and left footed center back. This is to ensure balance when building out of the back, even if Davies is a traditional fullback.
It’s conceivable to envision a future where Postecoglou shifts to a three man backline given the players at the club. Any version of a three man backline will have to come next season when van de Ven and Drăguşin have had more experience in the Prem.
The transfer of Drăguşin addresses some urgent needs for this side. As the Lilywhites continue their battle for a Champions League spot, Drăguşin promises to be a key piece in that battle.
Drăguşin continues a strategy by Tottenham to use the Serie A as a recruiting ground for their backline. After a few seasons of success in Italy, Drăguşin will be entrusted to continue his growth in a tough league, as Tottenham begins a new era. Postecoglou’s transformation of Tottenham has already been a success, but with Drăguşin, he may have a defensive cornerstone.
Featured image: Goal