By Kevin Hatchard.
FC Cologne defender Kevin Wimmer looks set to complete his move to White Hart Lane in the summer. Here’s all you need to know about the Austrian starlet . . .Embed from Getty Images
Tottenham are one of a growing number of clubs who are focusing on youth in the transfer market. One of the main strengths of coach Mauricio Pochettino is player development (Harry Kane is Exhibit A in this regard), and on his watch Spurs are putting together a core of promising talents.
Rampaging USA full-back DeAndre Yedlin has been recruited, and the 21-year-old has been joined on the roster by teenage forward Dele Alli, who has been impressing scouts for months at League One side MK Dons. Such players not only have the potential to vastly improve with careful guidance and coaching, but they also have huge resale value, which won’t have escaped the attention of shrewd Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
Spurs’ latest acquisition appears to be FC Cologne defender Kevin Wimmer, who is expected to join the Lilywhites for £4.3million this summer, even though the player himself insists nothing has yet been finalised. He is just 22, but he has already got 25 Bundesliga starts under his belt, and has been part of one of the German top flight’s toughest rearguards this season.
The Austrian international was part of a Billy Goats back four that kept clean sheets in their first four matches of the Bundesliga campaign. Bearing in mind that Cologne only won promotion in the summer, this was a huge achievement. Cologne have steered clear of the relegation zone all season, and they are currently five points clear of the bottom three.
With just 32 goals leaked in 26 games, “Effzeh” have the best defensive record outside the top five. They recently held resurgent Borussia Dortmund to a 0-0 draw at Signal Iduna Park, picking up their tenth clean sheet in the Bundesliga this term.
Wimmer has only missed one league game all season, and that was because he was sent off recently against Eintracht Frankfurt. Such transgressions are rare these days, as Wimmer has learned not to dive into challenges. Playing in his native Austria, he was sent off twice in his first full season for LASK Linz, but last season he picked up just two yellow cards in 26 games, as he helped Cologne win promotion as champions from the second tier of German football.
Wimmer is left-footed, comfortable on the ball, and can play accurate long passes when required. He is quick to close down attackers without rushing into challenges. Although he is capable of playing at full-back, centre-back is his preferred and best position.
He is 6ft 2in tall, and although his aerial ability is adequate, it’s an area where I feel he could certainly improve. It’s noticeable that unlike many centre-backs, Wimmer is not generally a threat from set-pieces. He is yet to score this season, and he has found the net just six times in his entire senior career.
The 22-year-old is strong in the tackle, and not easily outmuscled, but I think the most impressive weapon in his armoury is his mental strength. Having been snapped up from Austrian football by one of the most recognisable clubs in Germany, he wasn’t overawed, and he patiently waited for his first-team chance. Once he broke into the first team, he hung on to his spot with a series of mature, composed displays.
Spurs aren’t bringing in a household name by snapping up Wimmer, but they are buying a talented and hard-working young man, who is strong both physically and mentally. I suspect Pochettino will improve him further – and once he grabs a place in the Tottenham starting XI, it’ll be tough to take it from him.
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