Come on. Did you expect us to start anywhere else? Most of us here on the site have been begging for Tottenham Hotspur to sign Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao for quite a while now. Unfortunately, he continues to elude us. Also, if his club, Internacional, is to be believed he won't be heading anywhere anytime soon.
Damiao has an interesting story. He began his career as a midfielder and was told by numerous clubs he wasn't good enough to make it as a footballer. He moved to striker and the rest has been history. After winning three titles with Internacional's U-21 side he was called into the club's B team. He scored twice in his debut and was then called into the club's Copa Libertadores campaign, which the club went on to win.
Damiao, who turned 22 this summer, has, in 86 total appearances for Internacional, scored 52 goals, including an astonish 17 in 13 games in the Campeonato Gaucho. For those of you non-math majors, his strike rate is a goal every 149 minutes. Not bad, eh? In case you haven't seen any of his highlights, check out this clip.
After the jump we'll look a bit more at Damiao's skill set and how he would fit in at Tottenham Hotspur.Leandro Damiao possesses just about every attribute you could want in a target striker. At just over 6'1" and 180 pounds Damiao is built well enough to handle defenders in the English game. He's very strong, a good jumper, and an excellent header of the ball. He holds the ball up well and while his distribution as a target striker could be improved it's not all that bad.
Damiao is a good finisher, but he does take a few pages from Jermaine Defoe's book. Namely, Damiao has a tendency to absolutely smash the ball no matter the situation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but being a little more precise with his finishing wouldn't be such a bad thing. Obviously his technique is working for him, so I can't complain too much.
Probably my favorite thing about Damiao is that he's a hard worker. He's the antithesis of Roman Pavlyuchenko. Damiao moves well off the ball, getting into the channels to pick up possession. He moves well for a target striker and is a pretty damn good dribbler too. No one is going to confuse him with Neymar or anything, but he's also not Peter Crouch. He has pace enough to beat defenders on the dribble.
If I had to compare Leandro Damiao to another player I would say he most closely resembles Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez. Both are strong target men with the ability to beat you with pace. I think that's probably the level of performance what we can hope to see from Damiao as he matures. At the same point in his career Gomez was starting to emerge as a star for Stuttgart so Damiao seems to be on pace to match that development.
The question is, how would Leandro Damiao fit into Tottenham Hotspur? At the current time, as good as he is, Damiao is not going to start over Emmanuel Adebayor or Rafael Van der Vaart. However, the idea of giving Damiao a run out in cup matches or using him as a sub late in games is very exciting. Damiao could certainly play in two striker performances with Adebayor. Playing the two of them together would allow Adebayor to push further up the pitch, while Damiao does the work of linking up play.
Bringing him in during the January window would be advantageous as it would allow him time to acclimate to the English game and also learn some tricks of the trade from Adebayor. The main problem with this transfer is the money. Internacional want stupid money for Leandro Damiao. We're talking £40 million plus. I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. Damiao is good, but he's not that good. If the price were closer to £20 million (which is about what I get him for in Football Manager) I think Tottenham Hotspur and chairman Daniel Levy would be happy to pay it and bring him in. Wages shouldn't be a big stumbling block for Damiao, as they are with Adebayor.
All in all, this move needs to happen sooner rather than later. The longer Damiao stays in Brazil the higher his price is going to climb. He's going to continue to score goals and continue to attract interest from big clubs in Spain, Italy, England, and (if rumors are to be believed) Ukraine. If Tottenham want to solidify their strikeforce for year's to come they need to wrap-up Damiao now.