Why Hakan Calhanoglu would provide silkiness to complement Spurs’ strong core
Tottenham Hotspur have flown under the radar in this summer’s transfer window, despite the useful looking purchases of Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen. Some sections of the Spurs faithful have become anxious that there is a party going on to which they are not invited, namely the enormous sums of money being spent elsewhere. However, they could well reap the benefits of cohesion and continuity. It is somewhat surprising, given the season Spurs constructed last season, that they have not had more vultures sniffing around the spine of their team. They have kept Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Delle Alli and Harry Kane in place; that neither Manchester club or Chelsea calm knocking is something to be celebrated.
Nevertheless, Mauricio Pochetinno is looking to add to Spurs’ ranks and last week reports linked them with a move for Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu. Spurs fans should exercise some caution because the source of the story is the player’s agent, and all football fans know this type of story can be the precursor to new contract. Calhanoglu has scored 21 goals in two Bundesliga seasons, which is an impressive total from midfield. He was one of the standout players on the pitch in England’s friendly against Turkey at the Etihad prior to Euro 2016. However, the tournament in France was a massive disappointment for Turkey who were well fancied.
Spurs had more draws than any team in the top six last season, and Pochetinno may be looking to add extra zest and creativity in order eek a few additional wins. Jurgen Klopp famously said that the ‘Gegenpress’ is his most creative player. Pochetinno and Spurs follow a similar dictum, relentlessly harrying with the intention of winning the ball back while opponent are out of defensive shape. Their attacks follow a predictable pattern; Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela join Moussa Dembele in central areas to create numerical superiority, while Danny Rose and Kyle Walker bomb on to offer width. ‘Predictably’ can be a positive thing because the players build a telepathic understanding with one another, and Spurs looked the most co-ordinated unit in the league for much of last season.
However, sometimes a bit more subtlety and nuance is required especially for a team such as Spurs who opponents will pay full respect to. Visitors to White Hart Lane will put bodies behind the ball and defend in numbers; Spurs had to be extremely patient to earn a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace and the pattern of that match is likely to be repeated. Calhanoglu will add greater variety to Spurs’ play in the last third of the pitch, as well as considerable goal threat. Moreover, the Turkish international has a reputation as a set piece specialist. Spurs scored more goals from set pieces than anyone else last term, and Calhanoglu’s arrival would strengthen this facet of their game further.
The European Championship showed than Kane and Alli need to be surrounded by ball manipulators who can circulate possession, helping the team build attacks. Fine players though they are, Kane and Alli are not quite players who can produce something from nothing. To say they need chances put on plate for them would be an exaggeration, but they are both players who want to be on the end of moves rather than starting them. They want to attack space rather than create it.
Eriksen and Dembele handle the ball for the Spurs exceptionally well, allowing Kane and Alli to make their impact in and around the penalty area. England lacked such technicians, which rendered them almost impotent. Calhanoglu would provide more wou.
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