After French winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou finally signed on deadline day, competition for places in Spurs’ first XI will only get stronger. Last season, the Korean Heung Min-Son was bereft of playing time, featuring mostly in cup games, or coming off the bench, and disappointed up front. He did have moments of brilliance – a brace on his debut against FK Qarabag, and a stunning finish against Leicester in the FA Cup – and will only improve, but nonetheless is his place in the squad under threat?
In the short term, almost certainly not. Son is a goalscorer, even in wide positions, and comes up at vital times to score big goals – the second away at Chelsea, and the winner at home to Crystal Palace on top of the aforementioned goals in cup competitions. Spurs lack genuine wide players in any kind of depth, and Son is a good option out wide; he has a fantastic work rate, is technically able with both feet, and clearly has an eye for goal. His ability to create chances out of nothing – as displayed against Watford, when he scored in the dying minutes with a superb flick, or against Southampton when he kept running for a loose ball that everyone else had given up on – cannot be undervalued by Spurs, especially against sides who will come to White Hart Lane to defend with ten men behind the ball.
But an argument can be made for selling him – especially if Spurs receive their fee back. South Korean athletes still have to do military service, unless they receive Olympic medals – which didn’t happen in 2016 – so his value to the squad detracts there. Combine this with a lack of guaranteed first team minutes, unless suspensions or injuries come into play – and that argument grows in strength. Add to it all the fact that Spurs have so many players who could do a job where Son plays, as well as a very promising young English talent called Marcus Edwards, and the argument grows yet stronger still, as Son could well harm Edwards’ development.
Having said that, Son fits the Pochettino system very well. He’s fit, and uses his stamina to fulfil his defensive duties, while his pace on the break is an invaluable asset when Spurs recover possession. The Korean is also bound to be match-fit; he participated with Korea in the Rio Olympics and has returned from national team duty to train at Hotspur Way – an attitude he must be commended for. Son clearly has great desire for the game, a trait he shares with Erik Lamela, who is now making his time at Spurs a successful one, so he’s in good company in that regard. It’s also very easy to forget that last season was Son’s first in the Premier League – and there have been countless players who have made a more significant impact in their second or third seasons in Britain when compared to their first. For this reason, he surely must have a future at Spurs in the foreseeable future.
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