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Spurs could sign “monster duel-winner” to be their own version of Rice

Written by on May 13, 2024

Ange Postecoglou’s first season as manager of Tottenham Hotspur has very much been a tale of two halves. In the first ten games, Spurs were flying at the top of the Premier League, yet now find themselves in fifth place, and seem destined for the Europa League.

Spurs’ opening ten fixtures in the league this season saw them win eight times and draw twice. According to Opta Joe, Postecoglou’s 26 points is the most a Premier League manager has achieved during his first ten matches in charge in the competition.

Since then, however, the Lilywhites have fallen to fifth in the Premier League on 63 points. They are currently four points off fourth place Aston Villa and still have to play Manchester City, on Tuesday evening.

In fact, between gameweek ten and gameweek 37, Spurs sit 11th in the form table. That period would see them on 37 points and a -1 goal difference, winning 11 and losing 11, whilst drawing four.

With that being said, it has still been a largely successful first season for Postecoglou. The former Celtic manager has a big summer transfer window coming up, and will no doubt be targeting some new players to strengthen their side. In particular, the Lilywhites have been linked with one Premier League midfielder.

Spurs looking to sign Premier League midfielder

The player in question here is Everton and Belgium midfielder Amadou Onana, who has been linked with a move to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this summer. Whilst there will be lots of competition for the 22-year-old, Spurs certainly stand a good chance of landing their man.

According to CaughtOffside, Spurs are interested in Onana for a fee of around £45m, with Everton asking for £12m profit from the £33m deal they completed when purchasing the Belgian from Lille in 2022.

Amadou Onana for Everton

Indeed, this is also much more than Onana’s current valuation, according to Football Observatory. Valued at £26m, the Belgian midfielder is the joint-second most valuable player in the Toffees’ squad, along with James Garner and Dwight McNeil. Only Jarrad Branthwaite, valued at £43m, is worth more.

As per the same report, Spurs will also face competition from North London rivals Arsenal, fellow Europa League hopefuls Newcastle United and Spanish side Barcelona for the signature of Onana. However, due to the FFP restrictions on Barcelona this summer, “the advantage could remain” with the North London pair and the Magpies, according to Brus.

Why Amadou Onana would be a good signing

There is little doubt that Onana could be the man to take Spurs to the next level in midfield. They have lacked someone of his profile, a physical ball-winner in the centre of the park. The likes of Yves Bissouma and Pape Matar Sarr are quality players, yet not a destroyer like Onana.

Onana was described by football analyst Raj Chohal on X a few months ago as a “monster duel-winner”, and this is certainly reflected when looking at the Belgium international’s stats from this season.

According to Fbref, Onana averages 3.96 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes, 1.67 tackles won per 90 minutes, and 0.95 interceptions per 90 minutes. Interestingly, those numbers are not too dissimilar to those of Arsenal’s midfielder Declan Rice, who plays a similar role to the one Onana could fill at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.


Rice averages 3.61 combined tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes, 1.42 tackles won per 90 minutes, and 1.27 interceptions won per 90 minutes. Both players are of similar profiles; that is, destroyers in midfield capable of breaking up play and progressing play forward.

Rice and Onana duel stats comparison

Stat (per 90)



Tackles and Interceptions



Tackles won






Stats from Fbref

Not only that, Onana is one of the best aerial duelists in the Premier League this season. The 22-year-old averages 2.25 aerial duels won per game, which ranks him in the top 5% of positionally similar players, and a win rate of 73.5%, which ranks him in the top 3%, as per Fbref.

He would certainly be a wise signing for the Lilywhites. His quality is obvious, and he has been a key player for Everton this season, playing 29 times in the Premier League. Signing Onana, thus beating rivals to his signature in the process, would be a real statement of intent from Spurs, and would greatly improve their side ahead of next season.

Just imagine a Rice-esque midfielder in Postecoglou’s engine room. It’s a salivating proposition.


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