In January of 2018 when Tottenham Hotspur paid £25 million to PSG for Lucas Moura, the expectation was that Spurs were investing in a high-upside attacking player who could play in a variety of positions as well as in a number of roles. This was a time period where Spurs had not invested a lot of money into the squad and then-manager Mauricio Pochettino believed that Moura was a step in the right direction to replenish the squad’s attacking threats.
At the time of Moura’s Tottenham transfer, he was leaving a PSG squad that had brought in world-class talents Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in back-to-back off-seasons, making the Brazilian expendable and on the outside looking into the starting lineup. While Lucas was pushed out of Paris, at the time he was brought into PSG he was the club’s most expensive signing in history.
Tottenham’s signing of Lucas was a bit of a shrewd investment at the time. He failed to live up to the huge expectations given to him at PSG, which probably was the reason why Spurs were able to sign him to begin with.
Deployed mainly as a winger on either side but mainly on the right, Moura has most recently logged some minutes in a more creative, midfielding role under former head coach José Mourinho. A few seasons ago, when the club were without healthy and capable backup striker options behind Harry Kane, Moura even ventured forward and played at the top of the attack.
And through his four years in north London, Tottenham supporters have come to reckon that Moura may just be the most up-and-down performer in the squad. From the Champions League semi-final hat-trick against Ajax to the penalty clank off the crossbar against Colchester United in the 2018-19 Carabao Cup, the ups and downs of Lucas Moura have been well-documented.
Under contract through the 2024 season, Moura will be entering 2021-22 under yet another manager at the club, his third in consecutive seasons. Through the first three games under Nuno Espirito Santo, albeit against not-so-stellar sides in pre-season friendlies, Moura has been one of the star standouts for the new-look Spurs. And similar to Pochettino and Mourinho before him, Nuno may seemingly become a bit dazzled by the technical ability of Moura only to soon come to grips that Moura’s decision-making and inconsistent nature makes him really what he is; a player who runs hot and cold.
Of course, it should be mentioned that Tottenham have heavily featured the trio of Steven Bergwijn, Dele Alli and Moura and the main reason for that is the absence of international stars such as Harry Kane and Giovani Lo Celso, giving the trio a bit of a head-start in getting up to speed with Nuno and the tactical methods he will like to utilize.
As of this writing, Spurs should still expect Kane, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Tanguy Ndombele and Ryan Sessegnon among others to return to the fold. But in comparison to some of the 5s and 6s performances in the past, Moura has been a key cog in Spurs’ attacks in the preseason, netting two goals and putting in key passes through the lines as well.
When he is at his best, Moura is an eye-popping talent. Despite his size, he can out-jump people on set pieces. On top of his speed, his low center-of-gravity means he gets fouled a lot and when given the space, he can dribble among the best of them. It is these little glimpses of potential that each Tottenham manager has seen in the past few years to continue to give Lucas chances and significant minutes.
His graft, work-rate and technical traits all contribute to a player that can be a real Swiss-army knife for Spurs in their attack. At the start of the season, Lucas was probably a fringe candidate when discussing the ‘difficult rebuild’ and the players in the squad who should be moved on. In fact, he was even linked with a transfer out of the club, should a good offer arrive. However, despite all of the inconsistencies and the unlikelihood of a player four years into his Premier League career taking the next step forward, Moura should and will likely return for yet another season under yet another manager for all of the aforementioned reasons.
Lucas is by any means not a spectacular player, but he has a spark-plug nature about him that managers can rely and call upon to ultimately provide a game-breaking dimension. Moura has the ability to work in space against low blocks against lesser sides while also having the work-rate prowess to act as a defensive wing-back should Spurs face sides that demand and command the ball.
All indications are that unless a huge bid comes in for Moura, he will likely be back at Tottenham for another season.
While it has been against lesser sides, perhaps Spurs could gain a few extra sums of money off the banks of his pre-season performances. Of course, we have seen this movie before... Moura has been extremely impressive at times but has failed to make a consistent impact. However, under yet another manager, the raw traits are certainly there for the Brazilian to take that next step forward. And if Nuno’s system can get the most out of the Brazilian, it provides for all of the reasons why Spurs should hold onto the player and why Spurs supporters should maybe just give Lucas one last chance.