Antonio Conte comments on ‘failed’ Tottenham midfielder sit uneasy with pundit despite ‘decent’ start

Tottenham centre-backs Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga

Tony Cascarino feels comparisons between Eric Dier and Juventus legend Leonardo Bonucci are misplaced and doubts his longevity over the course of a season.

Dier, 28, has enjoyed an excellent start to 2022-2023, playing every minute of Spurs’ six top-flight games. The former Sporting ace has scored one Premier League goal and been recalled to the England squad by Gareth Southgate. Manager Antonio Conte has deployed him in the centre of defence this term.

Dier has played the position before but is known more as a defensive midfielder. And Conte namechecked his former charge Bonucci when revealing his hopes for the Cheltenham-born star.

“With the ball Bonucci can be a good example for Eric Dier,” he told reporters. “Bonucci did a lot with his career, which Eric can replicate.

“He has to continue in the way he’s playing at the moment – I’ll be very angry if he doesn’t.”

Bonucci has played more than 480 games in all competitions for the Old Lady. He has also won 116 Italy caps and Cascarino believes speaking about Dier in the same breath as he 35-year-old is an error.

“He’s had a decent start to the season but comparing him to Bonucci is a bit of a long one, for me, at the moment,” he told talkSPORT. “I’d hold back on that one.

“I wouldn’t have that he’s as versatile as Bonucci – maybe he was a failed midfielder, more than a midfielder.”

Jury out on Dier for Cascarino

Dier has earned 45 England caps to date but has not featured for the Three Lions since March 2021. With the World Cup looming large on the horizon, he will hope to impress at club level and when given an opportunity at international level.

He has impressed in the early part of the campaign, anchoring the rearguard in Spurs two Champions League group matches. Cascarino is still not convinced, however, and wants to see how the stopper operates over the next eight months before giving his verdict.

“He didn’t pull up any trees. I think he’s not bad. I’m still reserved in my opinion over the course of a season on Dier,” he added. “He’s shone in September and August, and I don’t know how good he will be over the course of a season.”

Dier’s experience of playing in midfield is one reason why Conte feels he should follow Bonucci’s example. However, it is unlikely that he will ever be thought of as an equal to the great Italian veteran.

He needs to continue his upward curve with Tottenham over the next few months. And the man with 11 Premier League goals to his name might then make it onto the plane to Qatar in November.

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