MAURICIO POCHETTINO rates Eric Dier his biggest gamble and biggest success at at Tottenham.
Both face the club where their Spurs careers began when they travel to West Ham for tomorrow’s powderkeg London derby.
Poch’s first Premier League game in charge was at Upton Park in August 2014 — when Dier marked his debut following a £4million switch from Sporting Lisbon with a last-minute winner.
Cheltenham-born Dier, 23, learnt his trade at Sporting’s academy after his parents moved to Portugal when he was a kid.
He originally joined Spurs as a defender. But, under Pochettino’s guidance, has since developed into Spurs and England’s first-choice holding midfielder.
Poch said: “Eric was maybe our first signing when we arrived at Tottenham. We analysed everything — his background, history, everything.
“In Portugal he was so young and we watched a lot of games, but always with him playing as a centre-back or full-back.
“Our idea always when we signed him was as a young centre-back. In that first game at West Ham he started as a centre-back with Younes Kaboul. Kyle Naughton was sent off in the first half so Etienne Capoue dropped into centre-back with Dier playing like a full-back. He then scored at the end.
“We wanted to play centre-back so we decided to give him that possibility that season. But when we signed Toby Alderweireld the following the summer, the club’s decision was whether to sign another midfielder or to give the possibility to Eric to fit into that position on the pitch.
“I think we provided him the tools to try to play there and he had a fantastic season.
“We took a big risk not signing another midfielder and it has been fantastic.”
Dier was linked with a £40m move to Manchester United in the summer.
But Pochettino broke his self-imposed rule on never talking about transfers by insisting it never got to the stage where he had to make a call on whether to sell or not.
The Argentine boss revealed chairman Daniel Levy leaves the last the word on transfers up to him.
Poch said: “I am a bit away from all that happens until the final decision when we sign or sell players.
“Daniel says we have that offer or we can do this. But always I am involved at the end of the negotiation.
“In the initial process, I am not aware, because I don’t need to know. My focus is football.
“I am the manager but in the end I am the coach who loves to work on the pitch.
“Did I have to make a decision about Eric? No.”
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