Davinson Sanchez could be at a crossroads this summer in his Tottenham Hotspur career with the chance to reach new heights or take his chances elsewhere.
The 24-year-old Colombia international’s career at Spurs has been a mixed bag since his near £40m move from Ajax in 2017, then a club record fee for the north London outfit.
In his first season, following a serious hamstring injury for Toby Alderweireld, the then 21-year-old Sanchez formed an impressive partnership with Jan Vertonghen.
Mauricio Pochettino claimed that the Colombian had the potential to become one of the world’s best defenders and when Alderweireld returned to fitness he was made to wait on the sidelines as the Sanchez and Vertonghen partnership continued.
With Vertonghen beginning to pick up injuries that fragmented his appearances in the seasons ahead so Sanchez began to struggle to maintain his consistency without a leader alongside him or the balance that a left-footed defensive partner can bring.
Alderweireld and Sanchez have been hit and miss as a pairing, neither entirely comfortable on the left-hand side, and Eric Dier has been inconsistent in his own displays since switching permanently into the backline.
For Sanchez, he has punctuated good performances with mistakes in his decision-making, borne from a lack of leadership in the Tottenham backline.
That is set to be remedied this summer as Spurs look to add a new leader to their centre-back ranks as a priority.
The club would ideally prefer someone with Premier League experience, with an interest in defenders like Joachim Andersen, on loan at Fulham from Lyon, and Brighton’s Lewis Dunk, but they have also looked at Fiorentina centre-back Nikola Milenkovic among others.
One characteristic they all share is that leadership quality and all three named have wore the captain’s armband for their clubs at times this season or constantly throughout it, and that ability to guide and lead others is what Tottenham will be looking for in any incoming centre-back.
However, to afford such a player, Spurs are expected to sell one of their current centre-backs to help create the required funds for such a move.
The question is will it be Davinson Sanchez?
It has been a strange season for the Colombian under Jose Mourinho, a manager who once admitted targeting him because of his technical ability on the ball in the Europa League final when Manchester United beat Ajax.
Sanchez began the season as a regular choice in defence only to bear the brunt of the blame for the late collapse against West Ham in October last year.
He did not start a Premier League match for more than two months, missing out on most matchday squads to new arrival Joe Rodon, a player considered a young talent but only a year younger than Sanchez.
Then in February, Dier’s struggles opened the door for Sanchez and he has started eight consecutive Premier League matches, starting games in a row in all competitions, including two hours in Zagreb and showing remarkable fitness.
There have still been mistakes in games, often due to coming out of position to cover for others, but Sanchez has been the first defender on Mourinho’s teamsheet and on the whole he has bailed them out of various sticky situations during their recent run of six wins in eight matches.
Sanchez, along with Rodon, would benefit hugely from a confident voice alongside them in matches, but the Colombian arguably could also raise the most funds if sold out of any centre-back at the club.
His performances in the Champions League during Pochettino’s era, not least up against Cristiano Ronaldo in his first season, ensured his profile remains high and his age suggests he can still improve.
Spurs would expect to recoup their then record fee though for the 24-year-old and that could prove to be a sticking point in a market where clubs, including Tottenham, are struggling with huge amounts of lost revenue.
Sanchez has also entered a new part of his life, having become a father for the first time during this season, and there will be a question of whether he wants to uproot his young family if a decision does need to be made.
Which offers come in and which defender leaves Spurs this summer is set to be almost as key as which new signing arrives and there are some within the club who believe Sanchez, if he remains, could reach new heights with the right partner by his side once again.