Posted on 13 April 2018
A little under five years ago, current Mexico national team boss Juan Carlos Osorio spotted Davinson Sanchez playing in midfield in a local Colombian academy.
Manager of Atletico Nacional at the time, Osorio immediately saw the 17-year-old’s potential and moved quickly to secure his services, at the same time helping him make the switch to centre-half.
Fast forward to the present day and following impressive spells with Nacional and Dutch side Ajax, a 21-year-old Davinson is thriving under the tutelage of ex-Argentina centre-back Mauricio Pochettino in the Premier League here at Spurs and looking forward to a massive test against table-toppers Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday night.
As Luis Fernando Restrepo, UK correspondent for South American broadcaster DirecTV Sports, explains, Osorio and now Mauricio have been key figures in preparing the athletic young defender for battle on the big stage.
“Davinson played for Nacional, my home town team in Medellin, and as soon as I saw him, I thought ‘this guy is special’ because he’s strong, he knows how to move on the pitch and he’s really, really quick,” Luis (pictured, right) told us this week.
“He started his career in the local academy like a midfielder and it was Juan Carlos Osorio, who was the second assistant of Kevin Keegan when he was the manager of Manchester City (2001-05), who discovered him a few years ago when he was in charge of Atletico Nacional. He moved him from a midfielder to a central defender and it means that he knows how to play with the ball. That’s what makes him even more special.
“For me, he is the Colombian who has adapted better to the Premier League – even better than Faustino Asprilla (Newcastle) or Juan Pablo Angel who played at Aston Villa or even Radamel Falcao or Juan Cuadrado because he arrived and immediately he adapted to the league. The other ones needed some time to develop their skills here but Davinson came, immediately he started to play and he looked like he had been playing in the team forever.
“I think he’s adapted really well to the speed, the aerial balls, cutting and running and tackles too. Once I spoke to Mauricio and he said that Davinson is really brave. Mauricio knows how a central defender needs to play and he will continue to help him progress.
“Davinson has developed a lot and, for me, he has the potential to be one of the best central defenders in the world.”
Above: Juan Carlos Osorio.
Since making his debut for us as a late substitute against Burnley in August, Davinson has only missed four Premier League games. On the bench at Manchester United in October, he served a three-game ban, which included the City clash at the Etihad, in December following his red card at Watford, but was the only player to start all eight games for us in the Champions League this season.
“It’s fantastic what he’s been doing, his performances have been fantastic but he’s still young and we need to be happy but also to understand that he needs to improve, he needs to learn,” said manager Mauricio.
“His performance at Chelsea was fantastic. He’s only 21, he’s so strong, so fast, aggressive but at the same time, like all players, he’s focusing every day on trying to improve and learn.
“Of course, our expectation when we signed Davinson was (that he was) a player with enormous potential who could show that he can help the team. His adaptation to the team and the Premier League was much better than we expected. He’s humble and that is a massive point for every single player to learn and adapt into a new environment.
“He’s young but always trying to improve and learn. We had a lot of information about his character but he surprised us much better than we expected because he’s always available to learn and improve. He accepts criticism, he accepts the corrections and to me, that is most important. He’s fast, aggressive, plays very well with the ball and at 21, he’s showing great maturity. But, he needs to keep his feet on the grass because he’s still so young and it’s easy to go backwards if you don’t manage in your head all this praise.”
Above: Davinson with Mauricio at Hotspur Way.
Mauricio is undoubtedly an ideal manager to guide the Colombian international’s development – something that Davinson himself underlined: “It’s really important to have the confidence shown in you by the manager,” he explained. “Mauricio is a fantastic manager. He’s given me a lot of confidence, he’s shown a lot of faith in me and that’s a real merit on his behalf – that’s one of his traits that is really positive.
“He’s always happy to give me advice, I try to listen as best as I can and put that advice into practice. If there’s something I’ve not quite done and I can improve on, he’s always there to give advice on ways in which I can improve – he’s always very clear.
“My job as a defender is to help my team-mates as best I can and to save my team from conceding goals. The gaffer’s experience helps and he’s certainly number one for me.”
Speaking about Saturday’s clash with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who are 13 points clear at the top of the table, Davinson said: “We’re always ready to accept big challenges. We always respect our opponents and even though they’ve lost their last three games they are a good side full of great characters and we’ll approach this game as if they have just won their last three. That’s how we go into games like Manchester City.
Above: Davinson in action at Swansea City last month.
“We have to focus on the fact that we’re at home, we’ve got to try to get the three points and the key is to keep this winning run. The immediate target is to finish in the top four, the three points will make that easier, but why not have in our minds that we can be fighting for second place as well?”
That’s something that Davinson believes would stand us in good stead for another push at the top of the table next term: “A couple of seasons ago, Tottenham were involved in a battle for the title right up to the end of the season,” he said. “It’s something which is desired by the players and the staff at the club, but also the supporters – it’s something they’ve dreamed of for a long time. Finishing well this season would show good promise for next season. It would be epic to win the title for the fans and ourselves and why not? We have to aim for that.”
28 December 2017
Davinson Sanchez is glad to be back in the frame and winning matches after feeling crushed by his three-game ban.
19 December 2017
We caught up with this year’s new signings to find out about their plans for the festive period and how they’ve celebrated in the past. The week-long series continues today with defender Davinson Sanchez, a summer arrival from Ajax…
8 December 2017
Juan Foyth revealed he and Davinson Sanchez spoke Spanish throughout Wednesday’s victory over APOEL.
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