Another game, another goal for Jozy Altidore. After a fifteen month scoreless streak for the US National Team, Altidore has now scored in three consecutive matches for the Yanks. This club season, Altidore scored 23 league goals for AZ Alkmaar, 4th highest in the Eredivisie. Could he be the solution to Spurs' striker problems?
Name: Jozy Altidore
Team: AZ Alkmaar
Can also play: Statue
Jozy Altidore is a classic center forward. Standing 6'1" and well-built, Jozy's game is built around his size and strength. While Altidore's young rise through MLS was based around unbridled athleticism, the Yankee striker has developed some excellent hold-up play and heading that has made him a real threat as a target man.
Altidore's development stalled for years after moving to Europe, as his three years at Villarreal were marked by little playing time and ineffective loans. However, Altidore's move to AZ in 2011 has proved to be a major boon for the striker's game. Altidore has scored 51 goals in two seasons in all competitions, setting records for European goalscoring by an American.
Despite the rise in goalscoring, Altidore's AZ stint has improved his passing and runs the most. Altidore has gotten much, much better at both bringing his teammates into play and moving off the ball to get into attacking positions. Altidore's recent assist against Germany showed skills Altidore lacked pre-AZ -- a well-timed run, first touch, and cross.
The weakness of Altidore's game has always been his work rate. Altidore has often been tagged with the broad "lazy" label, pointing at his lack of defensive work, activity, and penchant for being caught offsides as major weaknesses. However, these problems have continually diminished throughout his career, and this author feels that playing under a coach that emphasizes defensive work rate would only help his game.
Jozy's last run in the EPL was unsuccessful, tallying only one goal with Hull City in 2009-10. Has his growth in Holland made him ready to return to the Premiership?
Likely price: Hard to find a hard number on the interwebs, but I'd ballpark it around the €7.4 million -- the number Villarreal spent when they purchased him from the New York Red Bulls five years ago.
Probability that valuation is wrong: 70%. I've heard prices quoted anywhere from €4-10 million quoted for Jozy, and AZ seems to be playing their cards close to the vest.
Team's willingness to sell: Mixed. Former US International Earnie Stewart directs AZ and certainly saw the opportunity in buying Altidore. The striker's price may have plateaued after his great play this year for club and country, plus being at a prime age at 23. Altidore is very valuable for AZ, but I'd put it 70/30 that he gets sold.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Very good, with caution. On paper, Altidore is a perfect fit for Spurs. He's a prototypical lead striker, big and strong and adept at playing as a lone forward. His play with the USMNT of late mirrors his potential role in Spurs' system pretty well. However, Altidore has never proven himself at a level anywhere near the tier Spurs would need to play at to be a Champions League club. However, Spurs are in dire need of a long-term striker option, and if Altidore can rise to higher level of play he could be a great purchase.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Low. There has been barely any reports linking Altidore to Spurs. Despite showing well in the Europa League with AZ, it would still be a huge jump up in level to play for Spurs. However, he would be joining a side with two Americans already on it at Spurs in Dempsey and Friedel, with Dempsey specifically targeted by Andre Villas-Boas. If Jozy has a blinder in his last qualifier of the summer against Honduras, it will only drive up interest in the talented striker.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: B. Spurs need to take a gamble on a talented young striker. There aren't a ton of players at Altidore's comprable experience level, price, and build. I fully admit that Altidore could turn into another Mido if signed by Spurs. Altidore has struggled at multiple stops in his career and may not have the work rate for the Premier League.
However, Altidore is a player with immense talent who has gotten better and better throughout his career. With the comprable youth forwards in the Spurs system at this point (e.g. Harry Kane and Jon Obika) looking not ready for primetime, Altidore could have every chance to establish himself the rising Spurs striker of the future.