Vlad the betrayer: Arsenal interested in Spurs defender Chiriches?
Spurs, 13/2 chances with Coral for a top four finish, are bracing themselves for rumoured winter window interest in Romania international defender Vlad Chiriches from near neighbours and bitter cross-capital rivals Arsenal.
Crossing the north London divide is a rare occurrence, but the tabloids claim Gunners boss Arsene Wenger’s shortage of centre halves is behind the identification of 25-year-old Chiriches as a target.
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has used the 30-times capped Romanian sparingly this term, but an injury crisis has meant Chiriches being pressed into service at right back. Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton and Eric Dier have all been unavailable through a combination of injury and suspension for Spurs at various points this season so far.
Summer signing Federico Fazio and the return to fitness of Tottenham club captain Younes Kaboul have limited the opportunities for Chiriches to play in his favoured position, despite the sale of Michael Dawson to Hull City. Belgium star Jan Vertonghen is also in the first team picture at White Hart Lane.
This relatively large choice of defensive options contrasts sharply with a paucity of centre backs at Arsenal. In vice-captain Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, the Gunners have just two senior players currently on their books that operate in the heart of the rearguard.
Natural full backs Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal have had to deputise as makeshift centre halves this term when first Mertesacker, a World Cup winner with Germany this past summer, and then France international Koscielny sustained injuries.
Chiriches shot to prominence in his homeland at Steaua Bucharest, and encountered another London club Chelsea during their Europa League run in 2012/13. The Blues beat Bucharest en route to winning that competition in the round of 16, but lost the first leg in Romania because of Chiriches’ defensive heroics.
The jury is out on whether he has since fulfilled the clear potential shown at Steaua since switching to Spurs. Arsenal, who are odds-on at 4/7 to make the top four again, need bodies, though and Chiriches could be a stop-gap centre back brought in for more physical contests or when one of Meretesacker and Koscielny are injured.