Tottenham were excellent in their Champions League first leg draw against Juventus, as they came from 2-0 down in Turin. The majority of the players left Italy with their reputations enhanced, all except Serge Aurier who struggled again. The right-back was selected to start the match ahead of Kieran Trippier and it was a decision that the majority of people agreed with. The Ivory Coast international has all the tools to become one of the best full-backs in the world, but he continues to make the same mistakes that ultimately make him unreliable.
Mauricio Pochettino would have been fully aware of the rough edges to Aurier’s game when he joined in the summer. Despite being very talented, PSG were not sad to see the right-back leave Paris during the summer. He was a problematic character to have within the squad and that is best evidenced by his legal problems in 2016. The 25-year-old was charged with assaulting a police officer and although his jail term was suspended, it does raise questions about his character. These are further backed up by the suspension he was given by PSG for using homophobic language to describe Laurent Blanc.
Spurs would have seen a potential world beater that could thrive under the management of Pochettino. The continual development of every player in the Tottenham squad emphasises the coaching quality of the Argentine, but to sign a player that needed to be given clearance by the Home Office is a huge risk and in hindsight, it is one the club shouldn’t have taken.
The loss of Kyle Walker during the summer was a huge blow as the England international joined top-six rivals Manchester City. Perhaps it was the willingness to portray a positive image to the rest of Europe that led to the club signing Aurier. This was a player that had a lot of talent and had showed that in European competition for PSG. His consistency may not have been great, but there was no doubting that his arrival in North London was seen as a major transfer.
Since signing, he has been given chances to play for the first-team in a rotation system with Trippier. Aurier seems to be the favoured Champions League starter, having now played six matches in the competition, compared to 12 Premier League appearances. His experience may have been a factor in that decision, but the Juventus match highlighted the risk of starting the 25-year-old in the big matches.
Aurier is always liable to make a rash decision in a one-on-one situation. His decision making can be worrying and against the very best attackers in Europe, he is a player that can be targeted. Against Juventus, he conceded a penalty through a moment of madness as he lunged in on Douglas Costa. Although the Brazilian had made good progress, the situation didn’t call for the tackle made by the right-back. The penalty wasn’t scored, but that doesn’t excuse the decision made by the Ivorian.
This wasn’t the only example of poor decision making by Aurier this season, as he previously conceded a spot-kick with a similar tackle against Real Madrid. To make this mistake once is bad, to make it twice shows a complete lack of intelligence from the right-back.
Pochettino has done great things at Tottenham and he has managed to make the majority of players that he has signed a success. Moussa Sissoko may not be a £30 million player, but he has managed to contribute to the cause and the manager deserves all the credit for that. However, Aurier may be a lost cause that will never truly fit into the team ethos that has been built in North London. His lack of discipline and intelligence are two qualities that are not shared by any other player in the squad. There has been no progression since he first joined and that is a huge concern. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the club gave up on him sooner rather than later.