Tottenham End of Season Review: Kevin Wimmer

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25 : Kevin Wimmer of Tottenham Hotspur during the UEFA Europa League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fiorentina at White Hart Lane on February 25, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25 : Kevin Wimmer of Tottenham Hotspur during the UEFA Europa League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fiorentina at White Hart Lane on February 25, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images) /

Kevin Wimmer’s Tottenham Premier League debut wasn’t under the best of circumstances, but that didn’t stop him from performing.

Brought in from FC Köln in the summer, Wimmer was a clear back-up option from the very start, especially after Toby Alderweireld joined a week later.

For some Tottenham fans, trading Vlad Chiriches and Younes Kaboul for a virtually unknown like Wimmer seemed at first peculiar. While Chiriches never looked comfortable in England, and Kaboul had lost a good deal of his swagger, they were both experienced players that could be suitable in a pinch.

Wimmer, in contrast, had one season of top flight experience in Germany to his name. While Köln survived comfortably in their return to the Bundesliga thanks in no small part to their defensive efforts, it wasn’t as if Wimmer was some kind of wunderkind. His signing therefore came from out of the blue.

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Those were relatively early days in Paul Mitchell’s tenure as Head of Recruitment. It’s become clear since then that he specializes in undervalued talent — just look at Dele Alli, or even Alderweireld. He knows what to look for and, for as bargain-basement of a price as the £4.3 Tottenham reportedly spent on Wimmer, the consequences were minimal.

Tottenham fans didn’t really get a chance to see just how much of a bargain they got in Wimmer until half way through the season. Though the Austrian international actually debuted back in September during Tottenham’s inaugural Europa League group stage match against Qarabag FK, he had yet to receive any Premier League minutes by the time 2016 rolled around. Indeed, by that point Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen had played every single minute of Tottenham’s Premier League season, making a strong case for being the best centre-back pair in the Premier League along the way.

The injury Vertonghen sustained to his knee in a match against Crystal Palace on January 23rd forced him into action unexpectedly. He came onto the field and saw out a 3-1 win against the Eagles.

When the severity of Vertonghen became evident in the days following that match, Wimmer was the clear choice to step into his boots despite his relative inexperience. Mauricio Pochettino could have easily justified dipping into the transfer market with the time remaining in the mid-season window, or re-embracing Federico Fazio, yet chose in the end to put all his eggs in Wimmer’s basket.

For a team that even at that point was a clear contender for at least a Champions League place, this was a notable amount of faith Pochettino had in Wimmer. It’s not exaggerating too much to say that, with Vertonghen due out for at least two months, Tottenham’s season was in the balance.

Related Story: Wimmer has Filled Vertonghen's Void Perfectly at Spurs

Matches against Norwich and Watford were hardly tests of Wimmer’s mettle, though he did manage two clean-sheets. It was against rivals Manchester City that Wimmer’s true colors would come to light. That 2-1 Tottenham win wasn’t a master-class in defending by any means, but it showed that Wimmer could show up for the big occasions and hold his own — a surprisingly unique characteristic among both veteran and inexperienced centre-backs.

Wimmer sustained that early good form for 15 further matches in all competitions, only suffering in surprise defeats to Palace in the FA Cup and West Ham in the Premier League — the back-to-back losses to Borussia Dortmund were hardly surprises given the rest of the squad Pochettino named for both matches — while earning eight victories, five of which were clean-sheets.

Vertonghen returned on April 10th to a Tottenham side that, thanks in large part to Wimmer, was none the worse for wear for his absence. Indeed, though the sample size is hardly large enough to draw too many conclusions from it, Wimmer helped earned Tottenham 2.3 points per match in the league while Vertonghen only managed 1.72.

Perhaps the highest praise you could give Wimmer on his debut season is that he filled in for Tottenham’s most veteran defender and hardly looked out of place. He clearly has all the skill and confidence he needs to thrive at Tottenham, and with Vertonghen set to turn 30 next April, it’s easy to imagine him becoming a regular fixture in starting XIs in the years to come.

Next: Tottenham End of Season Review: Jan Vertonghen

On the curve we’re grading on for these player reviews, on Monday Vertonghen himself got a B. Not because he wasn’t stellar — he was — but because giving everyone As would be too easy. By that standard, Wimmer deserves the same rating. He was willing and able to step up to the occasion when called upon, and acquitted himself impressively thereafter.

Final Grade: B