Lucas Moura is the newest member of Tottenham Hotspur, signing a four year, £25m contract and joining from Paris St-Germain on the final day of the January transfer window.
While Mauricio Pochettino usually prefers to bring in new players in the summer so that they have the opportunity to have a full preseason under his tutelage, Lucas’ situation presented an opportunity to pick up a quality player at a good price, something that no doubt appealed to Daniel Levy as well. There are also reasons to think that Lucas could help out Spurs right from the get-go. Here’s what the acquisition of Lucas can offer Tottenham for the remainder of this season.
Pace and directness
Under Pochettino, Tottenham has started and played with wide forwards that are positionally fluid, and that like to cut inside from wide positions. But we’ve also seen with the purchases of Clinton N’Jie and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou in the past few years that Poch wants someone fast, tricky, and dribbly on the squad to stretch defenses on the counterattack and add a different dimension.
Lately, Spurs have gotten some of that through Son Heung-Min, and that’s what Lucas also brings to this Tottenham side. Lucas is extremely fast, and good with the ball at his feet. Like Son, he is direct and an excellent dribbler, but possesses a top gear that’s possibly greater than anyone else on Tottenham’s squad. Basically, he’s the evolved Pokemon form of N’Koudou, with a few extra years on the tires.
The knock on Lucas has always been that he’s one-footed, and can look like he is running in a tunnel, but his last couple of seasons at PSG have seen him start to pick up his head a bit more. At Tottenham, he also has a manager in Mauricio Pochettino who can help him develop other aspects of his game.
Spurs don’t play counterattacking football that often, but they do like to break forward with pace when they can. Having a player like Lucas who has speed and an ability to beat players on the dribble gives Spurs a different dimension and greater flexibility in tactics.
Lucas Moura, PSG 15-16 and 16-17. He's a good player from wide. Very good pace. He mostly stopped developing though, and PSG moved past him into super duper stars.— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) January 31, 2018
He should be quite useful for Spurs and the price is good value.
TL;DR WAY better than Sissoko. pic.twitter.com/wNrIaSwvVo
Rotation & Competition
One of the things we’ve learned this season due to various injuries is that once you get too far beyond Tottenham’s first choice XI, the talent begins to drop off pretty sharply. That’s more of an issue with creative players like Christian Eriksen; we saw it in Spurs’ draws against Southampton and Newport County which were played without Eriksen and Erik Lamela. The wide attackers struggled to put together cohesive attacks without someone to link play.
Lucas isn’t a creative string-puller the way Eriksen is, but he’s a good passer and is capable of playing anywhere across the front attacking band behind the striker. Pochettino has even quietly hinted that he could play up top. He’s also reportedly a hard worker who will leave everything on the pitch when he plays. Adding him into the mix alongside Lamela, Son, Dele Alli, Eriksen and (yes) Moussa Sissoko not only gives Pochettino more and better options in rotation during a busy part of the season, but his presence will also push established players to continue to improve.
Finally, Lucas is not cup tied, which means he can come in and immediately help in both the FA Cup and (if Pochettino wants) the Champions League. That has implications on the squad thanks to Spurs’ lack of homegrown players, but it’s certainly another arrow in the quiver.
And that’s all if we start with the assumption that Lucas can’t establish himself as a regular starter under Mauricio Pochettino. That’s not necessarily true. If Son Heung-Min can force his way from a rotation option to one of the first names on the team sheet, it’s possible Lucas can as well. That would give Pochettino the best kind of headache possible.
While he never evolved into the Neymar-like player that PSG hoped he would become, over time Lucas developed from a pacy dribble machine without a whole lot of end product into a player more adept at getting into good positions. He’s also improved his end product, culminating in his scoring 19 goals in all competitions for PSG last season.
Lucas doesn’t attempt a lot of shots, but he’s decently accurate when he does shoot the ball. Putting him on a team with scorers like Son, Dele, and Harry Kane could mean that he could fly under the radar a bit, finding more opportunities as defenses key in on Spurs’ more established offensive players.
Lucas may look like a disappointment after his big-money move to PSG from Sao Paolo, but when you come into a team with the weight of expectations the way he did, it’s sometimes difficult to escape your own shadow. There’s also not a whole lot of shame of losing your place to Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, two of the best young players in the game. What Spurs have in Lucas is a player who is good at a lot of different things, even if he might not be world class in any one thing. That makes him extremely useful.
Coming to Tottenham Hotspur is an opportunity for Lucas to stretch a bit and re-establish his career without (quite) as much pressure as in Paris. He might not have turned into a world beater, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a very, very good team player for a club like Spurs.
Now that he’s here, he has the opportunity to get his career back on track under a manager with a proven track record of developing players. He certainly seems to have skills that Spurs can use to reignite their Premier League campaign.