Juan Foyth could return to Tottenham as a new player after his loan at Villarreal.
The Spurs center-back joined the La Liga club for a season in September and has already played 15 games in all competitions despite being signed as a cover by Villarreal.
Unai Emery has a strong center-back partnership between Raul Albiol and Pau Torres, and former Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori is making it even more difficult for Foyth to fit into the back line.
But the Argentine still managed to accumulate plenty of minutes and that is because he was used in central midfield, a position he has never played before.
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Emery’s decision was born due to injury issues in Villarreal midfield but Foyth handled it well.
And this week, the 23-year-old was asked about his move to the new position. At a press conference he said: “You adapt to the needs of the team. The important thing is not to present yourself, it is important that the team (as a whole) does good.
“The coach knows I’m a central defender, but I’ll always help in the position I’m assigned.”
When asked about his previous experience of playing in midfield, Foyth added: “In professional football, I hadn’t played pivot. Far away, yes, for the national team and for Tottenham.
“When I was asked to play pivot, the coach and his assistants gave me tips and advice on how to play well.”
While Foyth, who is also competent as a full-back, has coped with the changes well, his appearances have consistently been in nature and made four straight appearances in December and January before he recently sustained a muscle injury.
Now he’s fit again though, starting the last time Villarreal lost a two-goal lead to draw with Elche, making it a high-league 12 tie for the Castellon club.
Villarreal, who are currently fifth in La Liga, have an option to buy Foyth’s loan but he could still return to Tottenham, the club he joined from Estudiantes for £ 8m in 2018.
And when he returns to north London, Foyth could return as a new player with that experience as a midfielder.
Not that there are too many gaps in Jose Mourinho’s midfield right now as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Harry Winks and others all specialize in similar roles.
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However, the change of position, if sustained, could give him better chances of making it into Mourinho’s plans as there have been doubts about his center-back abilities at times in the past.
And even if the move doesn’t prove permanent, midfield experience could be key as managers often value players who can play in more than one position, much like Eric Dier after joining defender recently.