When discussing who would be Cartilage Free Captain’s Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Season with my staff in Slack a while back, I broached the subject thusly: OK, does anyone in here NOT think Son is our clear Player of the Season?
Nobody did. Easiest decision ever.
Player of the Season: Son-Heung-Min
This isn’t us being hipster, or controversial, either. Sonny has pretty much swept all of the Spurs player of the season awards, not only from the club but all of the media outlets and blogs that cover Tottenham. Honestly, it’d be weird for anyone NOT to give it to Son, because he’s without question had the best season of his career.
It takes a lot to knock Harry Kane off his perch as Tottenham Hotspur’s leading scorer. It hasn’t happened for eight years. You have to go back to 2014 to find a player who scored more than Harry Kane, and that was Emannuel Adebayor with a mere 14 goals. (That was a tough season.) Sonny did it this season, scoring 24 goals in all competitions, including 23 in the Premier League. Son scored 14 goals in Tottenham’s last 14 league matches, a stretch that included six goals in his final five. Those league goals all came from open play and was enough to earn him a share of the Golden Boot with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Sonny also contributed ten assists in all competitions, and his npxG+xA/90 of 0.90 is the highest of his career, at any club. To state it in plain English, Son averaged nearly one goal or assist in every match he played this season. That’s phenomenal.
Son has always been a player that has lived in Kane’s shadow, and although those two have formed an outstanding strike partnership and mutual friendship that’s relatively unique in Premier League history, Spurs have always been seen as the Harry Kane show with Sonny fulfilling the role of talented sidekick. It’s odd that, although Son has never scored fewer than 11 goals after his first season at Spurs, he’s been underrated by many football observers. Son has never been linked with a big-money move to an even bigger club the way Kane has, even as he quietly worked hard and became one of the top offensive players not just in the league, but in the world. Nobody’s underrating him now.
While Son and Kane both had good years under Jose Mourinho, it is Son who has benefitted from the tactics and coaching of Antonio Conte, perhaps more than anyone else on the squad. Whereas Son had been deployed mostly as a wide inside forward earlier in his career, Conte played him more or less as Tottenham’s highest attacker, with Kane dropping deep to play balls in. Son is phenomenal at pace, but it was his ability to get around defenders and find open looks at goal that have propelled him this season. He’s benefitted massively from Kane’s outstanding service, but Sonny knows how to get his own shot off as well.
But all of this leaves out the other thing that Sonny brings to the table — an infectious joy. It’s been a hard couple of seasons at Tottenham Hotspur, but watching Son play with his heart on his sleeve, always smiling, has been a pleasure and has helped rekindle my love of Tottenham and of football. He’s also proper COYS, and referred to Tottenham as “my home” in post-season interviews. Tottenham may eventually let him go at some point, but I have a hard time imagining Sonny ever wanting to leave.
Other players have had very good seasons — Kane in particular played extremely well, even if his goal output was down from last season, and a few more goals might have put him at the top of this list. Still, I can’t think of a player this good who has deserved a Player of the Season award more than Son Heung-Min. But we’re gonna go ahead and do a poll, because y’all will want to talk about it too.
Who was Tottenham Hotspur’s Player of the Season for 2021-22?
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Other (list in comments)