With reports suggesting that Spurs have agreed an £8million deal with Hoffenheim for the services of attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, some fans are already putting the Icelander through the North London evaluation process.
When running the rule over potential summer signings at White Hart Lane, one of the more favoured criteria is whether the potential target is a Tottenham sort of player.
To define, the Tottenham player is the footballer that fits the mould of the club and its historic footballing principles. Whilst the author would argue the likes of Mauricio Taricco and Helder Postiga are a better contemporary reflection, it is the entertainers that fit this bill at White Hart Lane- think your Ginola’s et al.
Does Gylfi Sigurdsson fit this bill? It’s far too early to begin preaching about a player who is yet to even sign for the Lilywhite’s, but make no mistake about it, Sigurdsson has the potential to make a real impact in the white half of North London.
It seems more than understandable that some may dismiss the lauding of a player like Sigurdsson as nothing more than a bit of reactive nonsense. If he was so good, then why was he farmed out on loan to Swansea City last season? Everton and Arsenal passed on the Icelandic international as a youngster and some have questioned why he moved to 1899 Hoffenheim if he was truly as talented as what others have claimed.
But Sigurdsson’s path from failed trialist to Premier League hot property isn’t the clear-cut journey that some may expect. Such has been the nature of Sigurdsson’s rise to the top; people seem to forget how old he is. At 22, he has made 130 appearances, scored 44 goals and fitted in a stint in the Bundesliga. Some his age are still trying to establish themselves into the first-team at their own clubs.
Sigurdsson had, as has already been noted, faced enough rejection as a youngster before singing for Reading as 16-year-old. Even the likes of Preston North End were reluctant to take a punt on the Hafnarfjörður born starlet, but what was their loss was ultimately Reading’s gain. Two successful loan spells at Shrewsbury Town and Crewe Alexandra preceded his breakthrough season at the Royals. Sigurdsson scored 21 and set up nine in 44 games during 2009-10 season en route to bagging Reading’s player of the year title.
And whilst Premier League clubs hesitated and deliberated the credentials of a player who waltzed through his first full Championship season head and shoulders above his peers, Hoffenheim pounced for the Sigurdsson at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
Sigurdsson’s spell at the Rhein-Neckar Arena, however, was blighted by managerial change and tactical upheaval. The man who brought him to Hoffenheim, Ralf Rangnick, resigned mid-way through the season and Sigurdsson fell out of favour with new boss Marco Pezzaiuoli. Yet the Icelander was still voted fans’ player of the season, despite only starting 13 times, making a mockery of a Pezzaiuoli reign that could be aptly described as that of a Bundesliga Terry Connor.
Another disastrous managerial appointment at Hoffenheim in the shape of Holger Stanislawski, saw Sigurdsson fall even further out of favour, heralding his loan move to Swansea City. The rest, as they say, is history. Had Rangnick not left in the first place, Sigurdsson’s fate could well have been very different. But seven goals in 18 Premier League appearances has finally made English football take notice of a player that should never have slipped under the radar in the first place. This summer, there will be no hesitation in snapping up the attacking midfielder.
Spurs fans have already seen first hand, the damage their proposed summer signing can do. Back in April, Sigurdsson demonstrated his exquisite talents first hand to the White Hart Lane crowd by stunning Brad Friedel with a trademark 25-yard stunner. It wasn’t his best performance in a Swansea shirt by any means, but even then, his talent was clear to see- two great feet, a truly superb long-range shot, inventiveness on the ball and a willingness to work hard for the team. If the alleged £8million fee is proven to be true, then it could represent one of the biggest bargains of the summer.
Supporters may be curious to see where he would potentially fit in at Spurs and the absence of a managerial appointment at White Hart Lane means it is something of a guessing game trying to figure out who he could be lining up alongside. But it will be interesting to see whether a Sigurdsson arrival could catalyse the future of Rafael van der Vaart. Everyone hopes the Dutchman will stay, but as crazy as it sounds, the Icelandic international’s potential arrival can soothe worried minds at White Hart Lane.
If the Icelandic international does come to Spurs though, don’t think for five minutes that he’ll be happy playing to keep the bench warm. Sigurdsson is said to be a highly driven and ambitious individual who like Spurs, is craving Champions League football. It’s difficult to envisage Daniel Levy offering him a more lucrative contract than what he’d be offered at Liverpool. If he joins, he’s joining for football reasons, not financial ones.
The prize is there for the club that wins the signature of Gylfi Sigurdsson. £8million may seem like a lot of money, but for someone who possesses such skill and ability at the age of 22, the deal is relative peanuts, especially in today’s market. If Sigurdsson held an English or a Brazilian passport, it feels impossible to envisage the notion of paying anything under £10million for him.
It’s baffling why Premier League clubs didn’t look to snap up Sigurdsson after his superb debut season in the Championship. But don’t let his journey to the top leave you in any doubt as to his ability. The cream will always rise to the top. Teams don’t always have to go out looking to buy marquee names for bloated transfer fees and Tottenham Hotspur are no different. Gylfi Sigurdsson would be a fantastic acquisition for the Lilywhite’s.
Would you be happy to welcome Gylfi Sigurdsson at the Lane? If so, how do you want to see the new manager fit him into the starting XI? Tell me how you view it, for all things Spurs, follow @samuel_antrobus