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'Like a young John Terry' – Meet Eric Dier, Tottenham's next signing

PROFILE: The versatile Sporting Lisbon defender will soon complete his move to Tottenham – Goal profiles the 20-year-old ahead of his €5 million move to White Hart Lane


By Harry Sherlock

“Ultimately, I want to test myself against the best and the Premier League is where I dream about playing,” Eric Dier said in 2010. Now, having caught the attention of Maurico Pochettino, the central defender is set to be given the chance to shine at Tottenham in the Premier League.

A frustrating loan spell at Everton aside, in which he struggled to break into the first-team, Dier’s career has largely flown under the radar. One of few Englishmen to head abroad at an early age, Dier graduated from Sporting Lisbon’s academy, famed for such star-studded alumni as Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo.

Only 20, Spurs are poised to pay €5 million to acquire his signature, with Pochettino hoping the six-foot two-inch defender can provide cover at right-back and defensive midfield, while pushing the likes of  Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul for a spot in the middle of defence.

He will need little time to acclimatise, given that his strength lies in his European experience. While the Portuguese league cannot be compared to the Premier League in terms of quality, the former is a division which strikers are encouraged to niggle at defenders throughout the 90 minutes.

Dier himself admits he has grown used to that, and so is unlikely to be shocked by the physical approaches of the likes of Rickie Lambert and Wilfried Bony when Spurs go on the road.

“In England the forward will jump for the header with you but in Portugal they’ll be niggling around you and trying to keep you on the ground – not even looking at the ball,” he said.

Dier has a foot in both countries – his spell at Everton undoubtedly served to toughen him up – and he believes his grounding in Portugal will help him fulfil his potential in future seasons.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “Football-wise, I think it is great to come and play abroad. It makes you a more complete player in my opinion.”

Born in Cheltenham, Dier headed to Portugal at the age of six and was quickly snapped up by Sporting. Promoted to the first-team last season, Dier went on to make 15 appearances, as Sporting finished second in the Primeira Liga.

His composed style of play has drawn comparisons with John Terry and he appears destined to become a full England international, having already made seven Under-21 appearances. He has also appeared at Under-20, 19 and 18 level, and is now a regular under Gareth Southgate.

At Spurs he is likely to go from strength to strength. A remarkably down-to-earth youngster, Dier has taken sensible steps in his career so far, even staying in Portugal following his parents’ decision to head home in 2010.

Fluent in Portuguese, Dier has been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, though he has resisted their advances so far – reasoning young players can struggle to make an impact in England, given the large number of foreign players.

However, he appears to be making the smart choice in joining Spurs. Pochettino is an advocate of the ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ mantra and Dier is likely to be afforded a number of first-team opportunities in north London.

On current evidence, Dier is a raw talent. With only one full season behind him, he is far from the finished article but Spurs is a place where talents can develop and thrive – as evidenced by the meteoric rise of Gareth Bale and the steady progress made by Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane.

Dier is already fulfilling one dream by heading to the Premier League but already has set his sights on a spot in Roy Hodgson’s full England squad, saying: “I think it is the dream of any kid to play for England and play for your country.”

Hodgson has frequented White Hart Lane in recent seasons. Should Dier impress, a Three Lions call-up may not be too far away.

PSV: Bakkali yet to agree personal terms with Atletico Madrid

The Eredivisie outfit have accepted a bid from the Spanish champions for the teenager, but the Belgium international has not yet signed a contract with the Rojiblancos


PSV director Marcel Brands has revealed that Zakaria Bakkali has yet to agree personal terms with Atletico Madrid ahead of the winger’s proposed move to the Vicente Calderon.

The Eredivise have accepted a bid from the Spanish champions for the Belgium international but the deal has been held up by the 18-year-old, and the uncertainty surrounding exactly who is representing him.

“We have an agreement with Atletico Madrid about Zakaria Bakkali, but this only counts when the player also reaches an agreement with that club,” Brands told Fox Sports.

“I understand that he’s not represented by his agent anymore and is doing business with a lawyer now.

“We made him an offer, but he refused. He gets the time to think about his future and until then, he’s training in our second squad.

“He started very well with us, but then had a setback. He made some wrong decisions, but I hope he makes the right one now.”

Bakkali announced himself as a rising star by becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the Eredivisie when he netted three times in last August’s 5-0 win over NEC at the age of 17.

Premier League clubs target Celtic star Stokes

The Republic of Ireland international looks set to leave Glasgow, with the likes of Sunderland, West Ham and QPR all interested in the forward


EXCLUSIVE
By Joyce

Celtic star Anthony Stokes is being targeted by a number of English clubs after dropping down the pecking order under new boss Ronny Deila.

The 26-year-old joined the Bhoys from Hibernian in 2010 and has emerged as a firm favourite ever since, netting 68 goals in 154 appearances.

Stokes was handed a new long-term contract last year by Neil Lennon, but Stokes now looks set to follow the former manager out of Celtic Park.

The Republic of Ireland forward was an unused substitute as Celtic crashed to a 4-1 defeat at Legia Warsaw to leave their hopes of reaching the Champions League group stages in tatters.

Premier League and Championship clubs have been alerted to the fact that Delia does not see Stokes as key to his plans and the player is not expected to agree to a less-prominent role.

A Celtic source told Goal: “Clearly Anthony won’t be happy, and it won’t be a shock if he is lured back to England.”

Former club Sunderland, along with QPR, West Brom, Aston Villa, West Ham, Derby, Fulham and Norwich City are all understood to be amongst the clubs assessing Stokes’s situation.

Mourinho rules out Chelsea exit for Torres

With the Blues squad containing one too many foreign players, it had been speculated that the much-maligned striker would leave – but his manager wants to call upon three strikers


Jose Mourinho insists Fernando Torres will not be leaving Chelsea despite the club needing to lose an overseas player.

Premier League rules state that a 25-man squad must consist of no more than 17 foreign players, but Chelsea have one extra following the arrivals of Diego Costa, Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis.

Englishman Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole both left in the close-season, while Gary Cahill was the last high-profile home-grown player to join, but Mourinho is not interested in selling the much-maligned Torres.

“Three strikers is fundamental in the squad and we have three,” he told Sky Sports News.

“‘Nando [Torres] is one of them. We have a good squad. The perfect squad would be with this 18 players, not 17, but rules are rules and we are working hard, even here, to not have these kind of problems in the future.

“[We want] to have more English players in our squad which we are going to have in the future but in this moment we are still in the middle of this process.

“So at the moment we have to make a decision about one player not to be on that list.”

Torres has been linked with a possible return to Atletico Madrid but president Enrique Cerezo has stated the Spanish champions are not considering the 30-year-old a target.