FOURTH TIME LUCKY: IS VINICIUS THE MAN SPURS HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR?
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
After scouting every single possible striker in Europe, Spurs finally found their man two days out from deadline day, bringing in Benfica striker Carlos Vinicius on-loan for the season with an option to buy next year.
A ridiculous 825 days have passed between Spurs bringing in Vinicius and when the contract of Fernando Llorente expired. Two whole seasons with only one recognised senior striker at the club, making it much more understandable that Kane missed large portions of both those seasons through injury. But now he finally has some help, so why did it take so long for Levy & Co to bring in that all-important back-up striker and what can Vinicius do to ensure he succeeds where those before him didn’t?
Roberto Soldado 2013 - 2015
Following the big money departure of Gareth Bale, Spurs had to find a way to replace their star man and rather than splashing out the big money to buy a world class player, the club purchased seven very average players not proven in the Premier League, one of which was Roberto Soldado.
The Spaniard scored 24 goals in 35 appearances for Valencia in La Liga in the 2012/13 season and that was enough for Spurs to splash out £25m on him and he got off to the best possible start. Soldado scored from the spot to give Spurs three points on his Premier League debut and scored again the following week against Swansea in another 1-0 victory.
He finished the season with eight goals, a return not many people were too pleased with, but nonetheless he was finding the back of the net while still adapting to the pace of the league.
Many fans were hoping he would be able to kick on in his second season, but that didn’t quite go to plan.
Tim Sherwood was now the man in charge at N17 and after not the best start in front of goal for Spurs, Sherwood turned to the Academy, in particular Harry Kane.
Gradually throughout the season, Kane went from the back-up striker to the first choice upfront and Soldado went the opposite way. As someone who was seemingly brought in to be the number one striker, the former Valencia captain only went on to play 794 minutes in his second season in the Premier League.
Having been phased out of the first team, Soldado left the club in the summer of 2015 heading back to Spain joining Villareal.
Vincent Janssen 2016 – 2019
With Spurs now becoming much more reliant on their homegrown star striker, Kane was starting to play a lot more minutes and with Soldado gone a back-up striker was definitely needed.
The higher-ups turned to the Eredivisie and signed the previous season’s top scorer Vincent Janssen. The 22-year-old found the back of the net 27 times in 34 games for AZ Alkmaar and was the next big thing in the Netherlands, drawing comparisons to Robin Van Persie.
Janssen didn’t have the best of starts to his Spurs career and that wasn’t helped by Kane picking up a lengthy ankle injury, forcing pressure on the new arrival to start scoring some goals.
During the absence of Kane, Spurs were still just as deadly, but rather than Janssen being the one putting the ball in the back of the net it was either Heung-Min Son or Dele Alli. Despite not being a natural striker, Son was often preferred in the number nine role to Janssen when Kane was unavailable, just because he always provided a real goal-scoring threat.
Unfortunately, this was enough for Mauricio Pochettino to more or less freeze Janssen out of the first team, with the Dutchman having to rely on rare and brief substitute appearances.
He only managed six goals in his time at White Hart Lane with most coming in cup competitions. In the following season, loan moves materialised in Turkey for Janssen in a hope to get some first-team football and then reinvigorate his Spurs career, but that didn’t go to plan and the player moved permanently to Monterrey in the summer of 2019.
Fernando Llorente 2017 – 2019
After not having the most success with the strikers from other European countries, Spurs made the decision to look for someone with Premier League experience, hoping they would’ve already adapted to the pace of England’s top flight.
Fernando Llorente was announced as a Spurs player ahead of the 2017/18 season, joining from fellow Premier League club Swansea City for a reported £12.1m, after scoring 15 goals for the Swans helping them avoid relegation.
Throughout his two seasons, Llorente scored some very important goals for Spurs, including a late winner at Wembley against Watford and more notably scoring the all-important goal against Manchester City which put Spurs in the Semi-Finals of the Champions League.
Despite always being a presence when he was on the pitch, he would often be wasteful in front of goal, ending up with just 13 goals in two seasons. At times when he was upfront Spurs just wouldn’t play to his strengths and similar to Janssen, Pochettino often preferred using Son as the main striker when Kane was absent.
In 2019 Llorente’s contract was set to expire and there was no indication from Spurs that it would be renewed and he left the club as a free agent before joining Napoli.
What can Vinicius do differently?
Carlos Vinicius had three strikers that came before him who struggled to adapt to the Premier League, or just simply didn’t fit the playstyle wanted by then manager Pochettino. But this one has the real potential to be different.
Jose Mourinho’s top target was Vinicius, despite all the striker's Spurs have been linked with in the past two seasons Mourinho got who he wanted.
The Brazilian arriving on the brink of an international break was the best possible outcome for Spurs. Mourinho now gets to work with him in training for two weeks. Alongside this positive, many Spurs' first-team players remained at Hotspur way during the break including his countrymen Lucas Moura, who will help him settle into life in London.
Although the 25-year-old is coming from a league which admittedly is played at a slower pace than England’s top flight, the majority of his goals and contributions for Benfica during his breakout season were clever & incisive finishes or assists.
The most glaring positive of all is that Vinicius seems to play in a similar way to Kane, using his frame to hold the ball up and bring others into play, but then also has the deadly and poacher-like finishing of the England captain.
In the past seven years, Spurs have signed four strikers in the hope of developing someone who can fill the massive void left by Kane when he ultimately has his annual injury. But finally, it looks like this striker ticks all the boxes needed for a back-up striker.
He could follow the same path as those before him, but all involved at Spurs will be hoping they’ve finally found the answer to their second-choice striker problems.