Even if Tottenham Hotspur were to fail in executing what two months ago seemed unthinkable, in overhauling what was a 12-point advantage at the top of the table for current leaders Chelsea, for Mauricio Pochettino’s side to remain in the title race for so long, due credit is deserved.
Their remarkable feat continued with their 4-0 triumph over Bournemouth at White Hart Lane over the weekend, and much of Spurs’ strong run of form is owed to one of the most improved players in Pochettino’s squad this season, South Korea international Son Heung-Min, according to former Tottenham player and current BBC Match of the Day pundit, Garth Crooks.
Son was on the score-sheet again over the weekend, grabbing the Lilywhites’ second goal of the game on the way to their romping of the Cherries, and may yet break the record for the most goals netted by a South Korean in European football within a single season. His strike against Bournemouth was his 19th in all competitions, taking him level with Cha Bum-Kun, who scored the same amount in 1985/86 for Bayer Leverkusen, incidentally the club from whom Spurs signed Son.
This season has been of marked contrast to the difficult debut year the versatile attacker endured in England in 2015/16, and Crooks has lauded his contribution to the team throughout the campaign, particularly so during the spells where star striker Harry Kane was out on the sidelines.
“Tottenham’s win against Bournemouth was a walk in the park and it was Son who led the Cherries by the nose”, Crooks wrote in his Premier League Team of the Week column for BBC Sport.
“There are a few players in the Tottenham set-up who have distinguished themselves this season but the most improved Premier League player in my opinion is Son. He was brilliant against Bournemouth and seldom lets Mauricio Pochettino down when called upon.”
Crooks hasn’t been the only familiar face to heap praise on Pochettino’s men either, with former Tottenham star striker and fans’ favourite Dimitar Berbatov equally as complimentary when speaking as a guest on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday programme.
The Bulgarian forward netted 46 goals in 102 appearances for Spurs before a big money move to Manchester United in 2008, after having helped Spurs to a League Cup Final triumph at Wembley, which remains their most recent piece of silverware to date.
Although his former side are impressing far more in the league of late than in the previous decade, despite not yet having any trophies to show for their achievements, Berbatov was adamant that there is no element of luck about the club’s exploits under Mauricio Pochettino, claiming that the Argentine has assembled a side that he’d love to be part of.
“Tottenham are one of the challengers for the title. They are where they’re supposed to be,” Berbatov said, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.
“Spurs goals aren’t lucky, they play from defence to midfield to the strikers with accuracy…I would love to play in this team”.
Much of Berbatov’s praise was for the man now filling his boots, homegrown talisman Harry Kane, whose goal-scoring feat of 20+ goals for three consecutive seasons eclipsed the record that Berbatov himself managed at the club.
Kane himself was back on the score-sheet at the weekend, having made his first start since returning from the ankle injury incurred last month in the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Millwall.
“He’s up there with royalty, if he continues like this,” Berbatov said of the England international.
“I think Alan Shearer has now set him a target of scoring 30 goals every year, which would be great for him as well, but I think he’ll manage to do that. He’s still young, still developing, he’s going to become even stronger and I wish him all the best.”
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Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Is Juan Foyth a ready-made replacement for Toby Alderweireld?
The Argentine youngster joined Tottenham Hotspur from Estudiantes last summer.
According to reports in Belgium this week, Tottenham Hotspur have given up hope of keeping Toby Alderweireld.
HLN has reported Spurs have accepted defeat in trying to convince the Belgian of signing a new deal after failing to agree on wages.
Therefore, Tottenham will sell the 29-year-old this summer, with £43 million the asking price.
Tottenham could be looking for a new signing in the summer to replace him, but rather than spending big on a new recruit, they should instead give a chance to someone already at the club.
The player in question is Argentine defender Juan Foyth.
Spurs brought in the young defender from Estudiantes last summer for a fee reported to be in the region of £10 million by ESPN.
His signature was heralded as a success for the London outfit after the Times had reported PSG had instead got the youngster.
Foyth has played just eight times for Tottenham this season, with none of those appearances coming in the Premier League.
But at just 20-years-old and new to English football, that was to be expected.
Mauricio Pochettino is known to be a huge fan of his countryman and Foyth has impressed in the FA Cup this season.
As a ball playing centre-half he is the type of player Tottenham want at the back to take the team into the future.
With Alderweireld gone, Tottenham will be short a defensive option.
Jan Vertonghen will be the pillar in the centre of defence, with Davinson Sanchez an impressive talent alongside him.
Eric Dier’s versatility makes him an option. Foyth would then argue the case that he is next in line and deserves a shot at establishing himself in the Tottenham first-team.
It is certainly a possibility.
Tottenham also have highly-rated American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers out on loan at Ipswich Town, who could take Foyth’s place as fifth-in-line, if Tottenham give the Argentine his chance.
The likelihood is that Spurs will bring in a new recruit to replace Alderweireld. Perhaps a player with more experience will instead be pursued.
Foyth has not yet proved himself in the Premier League, so laying it on the line for him next season would be a massive risk by Pochettino and Tottenham.
But there is certainly a chance that the £10 million youngster could take Alderweireld’s place next season.
Clement Lenglet is the perfect replacement for Toby Alderweireld
The French defender has been in fine form for Sevilla.
When Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla last week, plenty of the La Liga side’s players put in heroic displays.
Wissam Ben Yedder, the goalscorer of both Sevilla’s goals on the night received the highest praise. However, it was defender Clement Lenglet who deserved the biggest plaudits.
The 22-year-old did a wonderful job of shackling Romelu Lukaku for most of the game, putting in a brave and assured performance at centre-back.
It was a display that undoubtedly won him some fans, and Tottenham Hotspur should be one of them.
It looks increasingly likely that Tottenham will lose Toby Alderweireld in the summer.
HLN in Belgium reported this week that Spurs have ended contract talks with the Belgian and are prepared to sell him for £43 million.
Tottenham, therefore, have a potential gap in the centre-back position.
Lenglet is the perfect option. Not only is he good enough, as he proved by United last week, but he fits the profile of a Tottenham signing.
The Sevilla defender is just 22 years of age and has years ahead of him to develop. Then, there is his release clause.
According to a recent report from Diario AS, the Frenchman has a release clause of just €30 million (£26.2 million).
Such a fee for a player of his talent and his age would amount to daylight robbery.
Lenglet, who only joined Sevilla from Nancy last summer, would be the perfect option for Spurs to replace Alderweireld.
He could rotate with fellow young talent Davinson Sanchez playing alongside the more experienced Jan Vertonghen in defence.
With a Frenchman behind him in Hugo Lloris and French speaker in Vertonghen, he would not have to worry much about the language barrier just yet.
Strong, fast, capable on the ball and a raw talent he is exactly the sort of player Mauricio Pochettino could mould into a future Tottenham star.
Alderweireld’s exit will no doubt be a shame for Tottenham.
Nonetheless, if they can bring in Lenglet for £17 million less than they sell the Belgian for, the club will have pulled off a masterstroke.
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