Kieran Trippier had a brilliant 2017/18 campaign which saw him become England’s first choice right-back and score that memorable free-kick in the World Cup semi-final against Croatia.
But since then his form has fallen flat and he has not really been able to rectify it over the past 12 months.
If not for a lack of options in Trippier’s position – an injury-hit Serge Aurier and an inexperienced Kyle Walker-Peters – it is likely he would not have started as many games as he did last season – 34.
He has been linked with moves away from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the most notable interest coming from Serie A in the form of Italian giants Juventus and Napoli, according to Sky Italy.
If Trippier is to depart Spurs this summer after four years at the club then Spurs will be on red alert for a new right-sided defender.
And Sky Sports have also reported a player they have been strongly linked with is Marseille’s Hiroki Sakai.
Sakai, 29, is an experienced defender having made 94 appearances for the French club and 49 international appearances for Japan, according to Who Scored.
He made 32 appearances for Marseille last season, scoring once and assisting four more.
The first thing you notice when comparing the two is Sakai’s pass competition percentage in Ligue 1 last season – 81.6% – was higher than Trippier’s in the Premier League – 78.9%.
However, there is even more of a disparity between the two in Trippier’s favour when it comes to passes made per game – 57.1 to 43.2.
It is worth considering when analysing statistics such as passing that in this case Spurs often have a great deal more possession than Marseille do.
Furthermore, Trippier made 12 appearances as a right wing-back/midfielder for Spurs in the 2018/19 season given Pochettino’s desire to play with a three at the back.
By contrast, Sakai made just one appearance as a wing-back/midfielder for Marseille and it is only natural that he contributed far less than Trippier did in the final third.
There is very little to split the two with regards to the level of quality they bring to the table, the major difference is Sakai is a traditional full-back and Trippier is an attacking-minded wing-back.
It will be interesting if this deal goes through to see how Pochettino looks to line up next season given Toby Alderweireld is also rumoured to be leaving in the summer.
It may be the case that the Spurs manager decides to abandon his principle of having three centre halves and decides to revert back to more of a flat back four.