Davinson Sanchez

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Davinson delights Pochettino, who predicts “massive” strides

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It’s still very early days for Davinson Sanchez as a Tottenham Hotspur player, but the early returns are extremely positive as the Colombian center back has featured in 14 of the club’s 17 games in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League this season.

[ MORE: Spurs beat Dortmund again to win group with Real Madrid ]

What’s more encouraging than Sanchez’s initial performances? The 21-year-old’s “massive” room for improvement and the expectation he’ll one day soon be one of the world’s best defenders, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

After signing for Spurs in August, Sanchez went straight into Pochettino’s starting lineup, slotted in between stalwarts Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen, who together last season led the defense with the PL’s best record (26 goals conceded in 38 games), as part of a back-three. Sanchez has taken to Tottenham like a duck to water, in Pochettino’s estimation — quotes from ESPN FC:

“You saw against against Dortmund how many times he was with [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang one-versus-one. How many central defenders can play one-versus-one and escape and go, be tight and press? If you run, I run because I am so confident when running. I think not many center backs in the world can do this.

“Or against Swansea against Tammy Abraham: how many times he was one vs. one and the ball was behind him, he was on the halfway line and running was not a problem? And against Cristiano Ronaldo, too?”

“We expect more from him, but I am so happy with him. He is doing well, very well. He’s only 21 years old, but he shows more maturity [than that], and he’s so aggressive when he’s marking, his concentration [is good] and then with the ball he’s good, but I think he can improve.

“There is massive scope to improve potentially, it’s massive for him. In only a few months, he’s showing he’s doing a fantastic job for us. [He can improve in] every single aspect, tactic, physical condition, technique.

“We need with him one and a half months or two months preseason every day, and then I’m sure he’s going to show a different level. I think he’s one of the best today, but has potential to improve a lot more.

“Because he’s so clever, and he’s very humble, and he’s very open to learn, he’s a player when you tell something his reaction is to be open, and be critical with himself, and that is a massive skill from a player, when he’s so open to improve, and then the conditions he has are amazing to be one of the best center halves in the world.”

To state the completely obvious, Pochettino was wise to utilize Aldeweireld and Vertonghen as training wheels for Sanchez, if you will, upon his arrival. His athleticism and pace make him 1) the ideal complement to a pair of players who read the game so well; and, 2) perfectly positioned to operate as the last-man, emergency defender on the rare occasion either Belgian is breached.

[ MORE: Liverpool host Chelsea in massive top-four clash ]

For the first time all season, Sanchez started out wide in Alderweireld’s absence (hamstring) against Arsenal last weekend, and for the first time since his arrival, he appeared a flawed — which is to say, human — defender. To his credit, Sanchez gave a quality account of himself on the whole, and finished the game much stronger than he’d started.

No one was more aware of this than Pochettino, though, as he slid Eric Dier into Aldeweireld’s spot for Tuesday’s Champions League triumph over Borusia Dortmund, again deploying Sanchez in the middle. With Aldeweireld expected to miss a couple more weeks at minimum, the Tottenham teamsheet should routinely read Vertonghen-Sanchez-Dier from left to right until he returns.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Tottenham set to make Ajax’s Sanchez its record signing

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Tottenham look set to break the bank on one of the world’s most exciting defensive prospects.

According to a report in the Guardian, Tottenham and Ajax have agreed on a $54.1 million transfer fee for centerback Davinson Sanchez. The Colombian international only joined Ajax a year ago but led the backline to the Europa League final, where Ajax fell to Manchester United.

Spurs officials reportedly traveled to Amsterdam earlier this week to sort out a deal to bring Sanchez back to London. It’s believed to be a $36 million transfer with add-on clauses worth around $18 million.

Sanchez will add more speed and strength to one of the Premier League’s best backlines, giving Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen a partner to play with in a back three.

Update: Later Friday, Tottenham made the signing official, subject to passing a medical and the acquisition of a work permit.

Here’s some more news from around the Premier League:

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Spurs’ first signing imminent? Wimmer out; Sanchez in

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Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly nearing completion of their first signing of the summer transfer window, as well as the club’s second departure from the first-team this summer.

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]

According to reports, Ajax defender Davinson Sanchez is pulling out all the stops in order to force a move away from the club, with Tottenham his no. 1 preferred destination. Up until a week ago, Sanchez had scarcely been linked with a move away from the Johan Cruijff Arena, but once word of Spurs’ interest (as well as that of a handful of other European giants) got out, Sanchez had already mentally moved on to the next phase of his career.

Despite being named in Ajax’s squad to face Rosenborg in Europa League qualification on Thursday, Sanchez is not with the squad at the team hotel and the club have refused to comment regarding his current location. The 21-year-old Colombian could cost Spurs as much as $50 million, though the ongoing saga could be seen as a ploy to reduce the price and faster facilitate a move.

[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]

With one center back now expected to make his way to north London, another — Kevin Wimmer, Spurs’ de facto fourth center back behind Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier — is reportedly the subject of a $19-million bid from West Bromwich Albion.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Tottenham chasing after Ajax’s Sanchez, West Ham in for Carvalho

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The 2017-2018 Premier League season is underway, and Tottenham have yet to make any signings this summer. But that may be changing soon.

According to the Guardian, Spurs officials are in Amsterdam to negotiate a transfer for Ajax’s highly-rated centerback Davinson Sanchez. The 21-year-old Colombian international signed for Ajax last summer and quickly became a star in the club’s backline, leading the team to the UEFA Europa League final.

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But with four years left on his contract, Ajax are reportedly asking Tottenham to pay nearly $52 million. Tottenham’s initial offer, the report says, is closer to $32 million.

Sanchez reportedly has his heart set on moving to North London and if he joins Tottenham, he’d be a terrific partner in a back three alongside Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. Sanchez’s unique combination of speed, strength and aerial ability should make him a standout once he adjusts to the pace of the Premier League, should he join Tottenham.

One possible issue with a proposed deal is that because Sanchez featured for Ajax in the UEFA Champions League qualification rounds this year, he could be cup-tied for Tottenham’s Champions League matches come the group stage and beyond.

Here’s a look at more transfer rumors and reports around Europe:

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Reports: Spurs in for young Ajax defender

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According to multiple reports in England, including Darren Lewis of The Mirror, Tottenham is in talks to sign Ajax central defender Davinson Sanchez.

The signing, should it come to fruition, would give Tottenham its first signing of this summer transfer window. Lewis’s report states the deal would cost Spurs about $45 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal comes back to win in PL opener ]

21-year-old Sanchez was a staple for Ajax last season, making 32 Eredivisie starts and 12 more in the Europa League. He scored seven goals across those competitions, including five with his head, helping him earn Ajax Player of the Year. The Colombian made his international debut in the 2016 World Cup, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 group stage loss to Argentina, and has two total caps to his name.

Signing another central defender would give Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino added cover at the position, where oft-injured Jan Vertonghen and workhorse Toby Alderweireld reside. It could also allow Spurs to send young American Cameron Carter-Vickers on loan, as the 19-year-old currently sits as the only other natural CB on the roster. He sees little playing time with defensive midfielder Eric Dier moving to the back line in case of injury.

Spurs has come under public pressure for its lack of activity in the transfer market this summer. Danny Rose made scathing comments in the media a few days ago about his team’s failure to spend thus far, but apologized for them soon after.