Tottenham may already regret £45million worth of transfer decisions that were made to try and tackle an issue that could have been fixed for free. Right-back remains a troublesome area for manager Antonio Conte and Emerson Royal’s red card against Arsenal won’t have done his reputation any favours.
Emerson was just beginning to win over sections of the Spurs fanbase with a string of solid performances under Conte. The Brazilian was top dog at right wing-back last campaign, making 31 Premier League appearances, and he has reportedly gone to great lengths to boost his chances of becoming a success in north London.
But a high challenge in Saturday’s north London derby showed that his reckless streak remains and the Lilywhites could potentially do with a steadier presence out wide. Soon after receiving his marching orders, Granit Xhaka scored Arsenal’s third in a 3-1 win to send them clear at the top of the table.
Emerson’s £22.5m fee is identical to the sum they splashed on another full-back, Serge Aurier, four years ago. Red cards and mindless decisions blighted the 29-year-old’s time at Tottenham and he left in 2021.
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A product of the Spurs academy, Walker-Peters managed just 24 appearances in three first-team seasons before Southampton took him on loan in January 2020 and signed him permanently for £12m at the end of the campaign. He has since become a regular on the south coast and barged his way into the England set-up.
His industry and dynamism could have made him a perfect fit under Conte, who tends to demand a lot from wing-backs in his signature three-back formation. Emerson’s red card has earned him a painful Premier League suspension but a Champions League double header against Eintracht Frankfurt gives him an opportunity to restore fans’ faith.
“The fans have to be fans,” said Conte. “I understand they can think everything but I see every day what happens during the training session. I try to do the best for the team. If they trust me, then they trust me, but the choices are mine. If I didn’t decide to pick one player it’s maybe because he’s not ready.
“We are talking about a young player [in Spence] with a good prospect, but I repeat I try to pick the best team. I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose. I try to put the best team, to pick the best team. If they trust me it’s OK, if they don’t trust me then I’m the coach and I need to take the best decision for Tottenham.”