In their transfer dealings already this summer, Tottenham look to have been paying close attention to the data from Mauricio Pochettino’s first season in charge at White Hart Lane.
The north London club conceded the second-most shots in the Premier League from inside the penalty area last season, behind relegated QPR. To rectify that problem they ousted former club captain Younes Kaboul and replaced him with Toby Alderweireld from Southampton, one of the division’s best backlines, albeit via Atletico Madrid.
Kevin Wimmer has also arrived to bolster the centre-half department, meaning Vlad Chiriches, at least, will also be on his way out of the capital.
Although Kieran Trippier has also been recruited to the 13/2 top-four challengers’ backline, he is more a solution to a different problem at White Hart Lane.
The club also finished as the third-worst team as far as completed crosses are concerned, registering a mark of just 19.5 percent successful, only marginally better than Everton and Newcastle.
In all of Europe’s top five leagues – that’s the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, according to WhoScored – no player registered more successful crosses than Trippier, whose 91 beat out new West Ham signing Dimitri Payet and recently departed Hammer Stewart Downing on the podium positions.
But while Pochettino and his recruitment brain trust have worked diligently on their own to take a Moneyball approach to this summer’s activity, there remains one obvious area that needs examination.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado combined to net just three times in the top-flight, while Harry Kane shamed them with his haul of 21 despite only gaining a regular starting spot midway through the campaign.
It was clear, before news that Aston Villa want to take the plunge on the Togolese forward emerged, that finding a front man to provide better support to the young English success story was a Lilywhites priority this post-season.
With Tim Sherwood edging closer to landing a reunion with his favourite salute partner, that task has gained even greater significance. However, finding the right man is crucial.
It has to be accepted by any new recruit that Kane will demand a high proportion of the playing time off the back of his breakout campaign, so signing someone that is used to making an impact on games from the bench would be wise.
On that front there can be few better options than Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi, a man already linked to a White Hart Lane switch.
First of all, the Belgian is under the age of 25 – widely regarded as the preferred age pool of the youth-driven Argentine tactician – but, more importantly, enjoyed a fruitful season in front of goal for L’OM despite being a regular reserve.
Six of the 10 goals he scored in all competitions for the French outfit last term came as a substitute, which equalled out as the second-best per-90-minute goal ratio of strikers from the top five leagues under the age of 25.
If a protracted £9m deal for the 21-year-old fails to materialise, then a far more raw candidate to deputise for Kane could be Lorient’s Valentin Lavigne.
All three of those strikes came as a substitute and, assuming Soldado stays around, he could be the perfect (cheap) development project for Pochettino to work with.
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