Tottenham seem to be set to miss out on Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek this month. The Pole is edging closer to a move to Hertha Berlin, with Spurs now potentially focusing their attention on Olivier Giroud and maybe Islam Slimani. No matter who the club signs out of the two, it shows that there could be a change in system.
With Harry Kane injured, Jose Mourinho has to be desperate for a striker. That is why multiple names have come up, including Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose. The fact that club has scored only seven goals in six games since Kane’s injury is a reflection of their needs at this point. Rumour has it, Jose has fitted his skipper with a free phone tracker to make sure he is doing all the rehab required.
Before Kane got the injury, he was playing in a new role under Mourinho. He wasn’t the furthest man forward on the pitch for Spurs- like he used to be under Mauricio Pochettino. To get rid of Spurs’ low creation from midfield, the England and Spurs skipper was having to drop deeper than usual. This was allowing the likes of Dele Alli, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min more room in the forward positions.
His performance against Brighton was an example. Kane completed three dribbles, won two tackles and had one key pass to his name. In Spurs’ 2-2 draw against Norwich, he took only two shots in the whole game. And he came up with as many key passes. He didn’t take part in a single aerial duel.
Even against Burnley, he played a similar role. The positions he took up were unnatural for a striker like him. He completed three dribbles, winning six aerial duels and coming up with two key passes as well.
Tottenham are a team who have come up with an XG of 32.34- the 11th best in the division. That lack of creativity was probably a big reason for dropping Kane deeper into midfield. Whether it worked or not is clarified by how Kane overperformed on his XG and XA before the injury. That is probably why Spurs are desperate for a striker.
Strikers who can play the Kane role in the modern-day are tough to find. Not every striker in the world can play the Karim Benzema and Kane role, allowing other players to play at their best. Spurs probably realised that and that could be a reason why they emphasised in signing Gedson Fernandes and Steven Bergwijn before signing a striker.
If they can improve the service and improve how much they create, they might not force their striker to come deeper. That is why they are going for strikers who aren’t like Kane and more like Fernando Llorente himself.
Giroud is a classic case of that and so is Slimani. The Leicester loanee has won 2.7 aerial duels per game this season, taking 3.1 shots per game. He has completed only 0.5 dribbles at Monaco, playing only 26.7 passes per game for the Ligue 1 outfit. The Algerian boasts of a tally of seven goals and seven assists, playing as the target man.
His XG map shows that all of his goals have come from very close by and that is why he has been underperforming on his XG. He gets lots of chances close to goal and scores them. The shot worth the lowest worth has been 0.32. That speaks volumes for what Spurs want.
And it is probably the right way, considering Spurs might just be getting their midfield combination right. Whether it goes as per plan is anyone’s guess.