Tottenham Hotspur will need to get rid of one right-back in January, according to a pundit who has predicted who the man to leave might be.
Currently, Antonio Conte has three options to work with in the right wing-back role. Matt Doherty, Emerson Royal and Djed Spence are all at his disposal. So far this season, Emerson has started 11 matches in the Premier League, Doherty three and summer signing Spence none.
Although Emerson has been the most used player in the position, there are still doubts about what he can contribute. Therefore, Tottenham have been tipped to go back into the market for a right-back in 2023.
It would continue a trend of them bringing in someone new for the position on a regular basis. Doherty arrived from Wolves in 2020, Emerson from Barcelona a year later and then Spence from Middlesbrough (after a loan spell at Nottingham Forest) in 2022.
Conte has a track record of targeting wing-backs for his dynamic 3-4-3 system. Hence, more movement could be expected in the position as long as he is still in charge of Spurs.
If another right-back comes in, though, it would be unfeasible for the existing three to all stay. Thus, Tottenham might have to work out who they would be willing to sacrifice.
According to Football Insider pundit Noel Whelan, the casualty could be Doherty, who is likely to make a permanent exit.
Whelan said: “I think Doherty is the obvious choice to leave.
“He’s not quite put a good run together. He’s had quality games, but sporadically.
“The full-back positions have always been an issue for Conte. He’s never been happy with any of his options there.
“On the left, he’s got [Ivan] Perisic and [Ryan] Sessegnon who are starting to look like long-term solutions for Spurs.
Matt Doherty not ‘good enough’ for Tottenham
“But the right-hand side is an issue. Doherty and Royal haven’t been good enough.
“And the fact they paid big money for Djed Spence but he isn’t playing – it’s a worry in itself.
“It doesn’t surprise me to see that they want to bring another one in, but something’s got to give.
“Someone has to go out permanently, and they’ll be working hard to get that done in January.”
Doherty, who turns 31 in January, is under contract with Tottenham until June 2024. Hence, it may make sense for Spurs to sell him next year, before his deal runs down too much and consequently his market value, which will already be dropping.
Before signing for Tottenham, he enjoyed a more successful spell with Wolves. It remains to be seen where he would end up if Tottenham were to get rid of him this winter.
This time last year, there were suggestions that he could return to Wolves, although it obviously never happened.
Now, Doherty might have to consider once more what the next step for his career should be.
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