One live question for Spurs fans now that the Vincent Janssen signing is official is how the Dutch number nine will fit at the club. At £18m, he’s not the sort of player you sign to play Bristol City in the League Cup and start the odd European game against Slovan Bratislava. Though it seems small in the modern Premier League, £18m is the fourth highest fee Spurs have ever paid for a player, trailing only the fees paid for Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado (gulp), and Son Heung-Min. Of that lot, none have had what you’d call successful first seasons in England.
But there’s reason to think Janssen may be different. Though Eredivisie strikers are tricky to judge, his underlying stats are solid. More importantly, Janssen’s work rate makes him an ideal Pochettino striker, which is perhaps why Pochettino seemed so insistent on signing him.
Pochettino will be the key to whether or not Janssen pans out, I suspect. Though he’s typically associated with a 4-2-3-1 system that only has room for a lone striker, Tottenham’s manager is actually more creative than that reputation would suggest. Last season when Clinton N’Jie was fit, Pochettino would sometimes introduce Clinton off the bench as the primary center forward with Harry Kane tucked in behind him. More striking still, there were some matches where Spurs almost ended up playing a 4-3-3 with Dele Alli as a false nine flanked by Harry Kane and Erik Lamela and supported by a midfield trio of Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele, and Christian Eriksen.
Point being, there’s reason to think that Pochettino will have ways of using Janssen. Though many forget about it now given how short-lived his time on the south coast was, Pochettino made a real go at fitting Dani Osvaldo and Rickie Lambert into the same XI during his second season at Southampton. And the results were intriguing, if somewhat limited due to Osvaldo’s spotty playing time. With Lambert dropping deeper and Jay Rodriguez storming in off the wing to support Osvaldo, that Southampton team’s attack was intriguing.
Though it’s hard to imagine Janssen unseating any of Tottenham’s front four in their best XI, it’s much easier to imagine some of the tweaks Pochettino could make when one of Lamela, Eriksen, Alli, or Kane needs a rest. Kane could be dropped for Janssen with the team retaining the same shape. Alli could be dropped for Janssen with Kane dropping into the number 10 role. Or Alli and Eriksen could be replaced by Janssen and Son with Kane playing more of a Lambert role providing service for the Dutch striker and Korean winger.
Ultimately, what the Janssen acquisition does is it gives the team options up in the attack. As we head into the season we now have two bona fide center forwards to lead the line along with two versatile wide forwards who can also play up top in Son and Clinton. Kane himself can also play as a number 10 if needed. The attacking band can feature any combination of Eriksen, Alli, Lamela, Son, Clinton, or Onomah (assuming Nacer Chadli and Ryan Mason are moved, as they should be). Given that we’re looking at a season that could include 60+ fixtures and that comes off a summer where Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Alli, Kane, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Lamela, Son, and Hugo Lloris all played major minutes, we’ll need all the options we can get.
On to the links:
An AZ fan posted on Reddit about how the club’s supporters rate Janssen. It sounds promising.
Steve Bruce says he wants Ryan Mason at Hull—”if he’s available.” So we’re one step closer to a Huddlestone-Livermore-Mason midfield or, as it is alternatively known, a poor man’s Pirlo-Pogba-Vidal. (By “poor man,” I mean “a bankrupt, destitute poor man living in a cardbox box.”)
Don’t miss Jay Caspian Kang on the dark side of American soccer culture.
The USWNT squad for the upcoming Olympics in Rio has been announced—headliners include Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Morgan Brian, and Megan Rapinoe, who is returning from a horrible ACL tear.
Hope Solo wrote a blog post about the often terrible working conditions for women soccer players in the NWSL.
Unusual Efforts’ latest post on an autistic fan’s perspective on soccer is worth your time.