Inside Lane: How do Spurs’ striker targets match up?
Tottenham fan Daniel Grigg casts his eye over the forwards that the Lilywhites have been linked with this week – and gives his verdict on the best candidate.
This summer, Spurs seem to have been linked with every talented and available striker that’s out there.
And, while Tottenham remain hopeful of signing Brazilian youngster Leandro Damiao, the common consensus is that a second new striker would be needed. Five main candidates have been gracing the gossip columns of the newspapers this week.
Assuming that Spurs are targeting forwards who should flourish in English football, then Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente should be one of the first names on the list.
As dominant in the air as anyone in world football at the moment, he might put added pressure on Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, who still need to improve their crossing – but at least Tottenham’s wingers would be delivering the ball with the confidence that someone might actually get on the end of it.
Even putting his aerial ability aside, Llorente is still a pretty good striker - although not the most staggeringly skilful, or even the calmest when one on one with the goalkeeper.
He is, however, very hard-working, good at holding the ball and passing it calmly in advanced areas – so, even despite his limitations, the Spanish striker does enough things very well to be extremely useful and effective.
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Spurs have also been linked with Mirko Vucinic, although he is one of those strikers whose wonderful talent with the ball rather outweighs his ability to actually stick it in the back of the net - he only scored 10 goals for Roma in Serie A last season.
Instead, the hunt continues for a forward who can do what the likes of Falcao and Javier Hernandez managed so successfully last season - scoring tonnes of those Gary Lineker-style tap-ins.
With Vucinic there’s also the fear that the hustle and bustle of high-tempo Premier League football might smother his natural playing style.
On top of that his work-rate is poor, even in Serie A, and he lacks the cocky belligerence and aggression of an Andy Carroll, who seems to enjoy tussling with defenders for the ball.
If it is a high tempo that Spurs want then Pablo Osvaldo of Espanyol must be a strong candidate.
With energy, aggression and toughness, Osvaldo’s scoring form in La Liga last season saw him finish with 13 goals in 24 games, making him one of the most coveted strikers in world football this summer.
In spite of that, his valuation still remains relatively cheap, and affordable for a club like Tottenham.
The main risk with Osvaldo is his fitness, and whether he would cope with Premier League football on a weekly basis - in January an abductor muscle tear kept him out for a couple of months.
Osvaldo has recently been labelled as a cheaper version of Giuseppe Rossi - another Italian striker who played in La Liga last season – and there is some justification for that label.
Rossi’s overall ability in advanced areas of the pitch is considerably greater and, as someone who plays rather like a young Alessandro Del Piero, his value is consequently greater.
So too are his aspirations, after Barcelona showed plenty of interest during the early part of the summer.
The verdict? Too expensive, and already too big a name to give up regular Champions League football, which his current club Villarreal are able to offer him next season - unlike Spurs.
Lastly, Spurs have been linked with someone closer to home – Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan, who would probably be the most inconsistent of the lot.
Despite his excellent swivelling finish past Heurelho Gomes at the Stadium of Light last season, the Ghanaian striker is just a bit too ‘hit and miss’ to play either the dominant centre-forward part, or the goal-poaching 15-goal a season role that Jermain Defoe is supposed to fulfil, and failed to do in the last campaign.
Gyan’s tendency to fall deeper into midfield and look for the ball, similar to the old Robbie Keane, means that he would be ill-suited to being the lone man up front in a 4-5-1 formation.
There would be real question marks over whether Rafael van der Vaart and Gyan could play together, with most Spurs fans surely having the Dutchman as their preference of the two, after all the goals he scored last season. Reflecting on the choices, Llorente, Spain’s natural successor to Fernando Torres, seems to me to be the perfect signing for Spurs this summer.
With his aerial ability, combined with Damiao’s pace and finishing, that partnership could revitalise Tottenham - not just on the pitch, but right through the club.