Tottenham Hotspur made the first addition to their attack this summer with the purchase of 21 year old Cameroonian forward Clinton N'Jie from Olympique Lyon. While signing young attacking players is always exciting, most of us probably haven't seen any of N'Jie outside of crappy youtube videos set to garbage EuroPop.
To learn more about our newest lilywhite, I reached out to French Football expert Mohamed. Even though he is a Marseille fan, Moe wrote an excellent profile of N'Jie last season that I recommend you all take the time to check out. Moe was gracious enough to take the time to provide us with some valuable insight on our newest signing.
To read more from Moe, you can follow him on twitter or find his work at Every Day is Zlatan Day, Back Page Football and Get French Football News. He also has a Tumblr account where you can read some of his thoughts about French Football from last year.
Cartilage Free Captain: You've written extensively about Clinton N'Jie. What kind of player are Tottenham getting?
Moe: I was intrigued with Clinton N'Jie because he's surprisingly a polarizing player. Some Ligue 1 fans think of him as a selfish, headless chicken who's only attribute is PACE! so I wanted to watch some games that he featured in. What Tottenham are getting is a dynamic player who functions best as a second striker alongside a striker who can hold up play (so in Tottenham's case, it'd be our lord and savior Harry Kane). For better or worse, he's a fearless dribbler who will take on anyone in a 1v1. If you need him to, he'll press the opposition's full backs along the flanks.
I do think he's in for some statistical regression this season if Tottenham feature him heavily. 65.5% of his shots hit the target last season, which is just a ridiculous clip. Half of his appearances were as a sub and there's loads of evidence to say that playing as a sub for a forward will inflate their numbers to a decent degree.
I do like Clinton N'Jie and going to a league that is more fast pace in the EPL could do wonders for him. Of course it could also highlight the questionable decision making he does exhibit but if he can get consistent playing time and Poch teaches him well, I think Spurs are getting a dynamic forward/winger.
CF: Are you surprised an EPL team has come in for him? He's only had one full season of senior football under his belt, correct?
M: I am surprised that an EPL team came for him this summer. Last season was his first season with Lyon at the senior level and I really did think he would get at least one more year with Lyon alongside Lacazette, Claudio Beauvue and Nabil Fekir, playing in the Champions League and in the new stadium Lyon built that will open early 2016. I guess it just continues the EPL's raiding of Ligue 1 this summer from those Ivory Towers made of TV money.
CF: Spurs are paying about 10 million pounds for him. Is that a fair price? A bargain? Or a rip off?
M: I think it's a great price for Lyon considering N'Jie has only played one season of senior football and they'll probably use that money to fund other transfers to help with squad depth for the Champions League. I also think it's a slight bargain for Spurs. Considering how much money they're raking in as is with the current EPL TV deal, the additional TV money that will come with the next contract, and the potential N'Jie has, I think it's a good deal for Spurs. Now obviously Spurs will need to help N'Jie realize his potential but if they do that, they could make a butt-load of money on a potential N'Jie sale 3-5 years from now or just keep him and reap the benefits of N'Jie's prime years.
CF: Why is he such a divisive player for Ligue 1 fans? It seems like there is a real difference of opinion between people who rely on stats and people who rely on the eye test when it comes to him.
M: It's really funny how there's such a divide with him. I think some of it comes from the fact that he's a very pacey player who is very confident with the ball in his feet, which last season did lead to a lot of losses in possession. There's been a lot of players throughout the history of football who we've been burned by because we saw the athletic potential and just thought "If only we can mold him so he can do A and B right, he'd be a monster." Now N'Jie is a bit better than that but he isn't close to what the potential end product could be. It also doesn't help that he plays in Ligue 1, which is a slower tempo league so offensive possessions don't come by as often as the EPL, so those mistakes that end in a turnover are heightened even more.
CF: Will he be able to slot in the role of wide forward or is he likely to just serve as a backup or second striker to Harry Kane?
M: I think he could play as a wide forward as part of a 3 man midfield behind Kane to the left of Eriksen, especially on the counter. He would probably be best as a second striker who supplies width alongside Kane but he could play as a wide forward with license to cut inside.
CF: Lacazette has clearly been an important part of N'Jie's success. How well will he work with Kane?
M: I think he could work well with Harry Kane. Obviously Kane doesn't have the combination of frightening speed and hold up play that Lacazette has, but Kane is very good as a do it all center forward that he would compliment N'Jie very well. He could lay-off shots for N'Jie when N'Jie tried to cut inside from the left. Also the fact that Kane is a high volume shot creator should create space for N'Jie as well, something that even Lacazette isn't at this stage of his career.
CF: We've seen a lot of young players have their decision making punished in England, how much of an issue will this be for N'Jie?
M: I think it will be an issue with him if he gets quickly subbed off on a continuous basis. Or if he only gets sub appearances and gets very little starts.
CF: If you had to guess, how do you think he'll fit in at Spurs? And the English league as a whole?
M: I think with time and proper coaching, he'll adapt to the English game very well. He's certainly got the athletic requirements to survive and thrive in the EPL. For the first year or two though, you'll have to put up with the turnovers he might cause as part of a bigger goal in turning him into a diamond of sorts. In terms of how he would fit in, he functioned best as a second striker who got to play off of Alexandre Lacazette in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation. Seeing as Spurs won't really play that particular formation, an alternative could be him as a left-sided attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 but unlike say, an Andros Townsend who's more a traditional winger of sorts, you have N'Jie cut inside so at times it could resemble a two up top with Kane. On the counter attack, he'll look much more like a left winger cause he spreads out nicely so the middle could also be open.