So, Spurs need a striker, right? But perhaps even more than that, Spurs need creative offensive players that can potentially fill a variety of different roles on the team. In today's Daniel Levy's Imaginary Shortlist, we take a look at Hamburg's South Korean wunderkind Son Heung-Min, a player quickly rising in ability in the Bundesliga, but who may not have received the accolades that he's due.
Name: Son Heung-Min
Team: Hamburger SV
Can also play: Attacking midfielder (both flanks), CAM
Son is a product of the Hamburg youth academy, dropping out of school and signing with them at age 16. He became a member of the Hamburg first team at age 18 and has since scored 20 goals in 73 appearances, including 12 goals in 2012-13. This doesn't seem like a high number, but Son has been dogged by injury a bit in his first couple of years with the club. He's particularly impressed in Hamburg's preseason games and has been dubbed the "Korean Müller" by none other than Franz Beckenbauer.
Internationally, Son has made 13 appearances for South Korea, scoring two goals. He declined to participate in last summer's Olympics, citing a desire to focus on his development at Hamburg.
Son shows a real versatility in attack. He's comfortable with both feet and can play either centrally as a lone striker or a second striker (which is how he was utilized most often at Hamburg). Son is also equally adept as a wide midfielder on either flank, and can even play CAM if required. At six feet, he's not the tallest player, but has shown an ability to serve as a complete forward and also hold up play if needed. He's also good with the ball at his feet, able to take on defenders while at a run and completing on average about 78% of his passes -- a really good sign. Son has a tendency to disappear when he's not playing well or is marked out of a game, so his individual stats can vary widely from game to game. But there's no doubt that he's one of the more exciting young offensive talents in the Bundesliga.
Likely price: £11.5m (via transfermarkt.co.uk)
Probably that valuation is wrong: This is probably a fair price for a young player of Son's caliber, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if the final valuation goes higher.
Team's willingness to sell: Hamburg probably knows they can't/won't keep a talent like Son around forever, and rumors are that in addition to Spurs, Dortmund and Arsenal are both sniffing around. Son is also linked to Chelsea because of course he is. The writing is probably on the wall. Hamburg doesn't have the financial clout to keep a player like Son around for much longer, and with his contract expiring in 2014 they'll likley try and get as much as they can from whoever buys him.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Purchasing Son hits all the right notes here. He's a young striker on the rise, and many predict he could emerge as a world-class CF. He's a complete forward, has the creative ability to take on defenders and has a keen nose for goal. He has bags of potential, a great work ethic, and a versatility that would fit in very well in Andre Villas-Boas' system. Finally, he's very young, will continue to get better given opportunities, and could help fill the Gareth Bale-shaped void in the squad should we (God forbid) sell him for stupid money this summer. In short, he's a no-brainer.
From a purely cynical and monetary perspective, all EPL clubs are keen to expand their brand into other markets, and signing Son would certainly increase jersey sales in Korea and the Asian markets, much in the way that United helped increase their brand through purchasing Park Ji-Sung. Son is a huge star in South Korea, a country obsessed with football. That isn't the main reason to sign him, however, and any inroads into South Korean marketing should be seen as an added bonus, not the reason for purchase.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Medium. The only links between Tottenham and Son exist in the media, unfortunately, but as we all know that's not a reliable indicator of actual interest. Also, supposedly Dortmund are keen on signing Son as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski. Dortmund being one of the best teams in the world at present, it'd be very tough to convince Son to come to north London to play in the Europa League when he could be the heir-apparent at striker for the Champions League finalists.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: A+. This fulfills the #weneedastriker requirement perfectly. He's a young, versatile offensive-minded player who can slot into different areas depending on need. He's a player who is definitely on the rise.
Guys, if we keep ahold of Gareth Bale, I actually salivate at the prospect of a front three of Bale, Son, and Lennon. Or Bale, Son, and striker-to-be-named-here. Son doesn't have the huge name (yet) of a Leandro Damiao or a David Villa, but if all Spurs were able to do this summer is land Son Heung-Min, we could certainly do a heck of a lot worse.