It’s a name that’s been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur for nearly a season now, but as the transfer speculation heats up regarding the club’s potential swoop for Hamburg forward Heung-Min Son, some supporters are already turning their attention to where the Korean might fit in their side.
While the club’s interest in Son can be traced back to the summer of 2012, it’s believed that the 20-year-old’s hesitation in signing an extension to a contract that expires next season could see him leave the Imtech Arena for as little as £8.5million.
And further still, if a report in this morning’s Independent is to be believed, the player himself is said to be keen on the prospect of linking up with Andre Villas-Boas’ side, too.
But with the team screaming out for a forward of the highest calibre and several other elements of the side needing addressing come the summer, can Spurs really afford to invest the best part of £10million in a player whose age and inexperience ensures a potential deal remains very much an eight-figure gamble?
The cynics among the Lilywhites support won’t even necessarily need to have seen the Chuncheon-born talent play, to raise suspicions about the club’s motivation to acquire his signature this summer. Barely out of his teens and adjoined with a lofty reputation forged on the continent, Son bears the hallmark and resale value of the sort of player that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy loves to bring to the club.
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Throw in the usual skepticism that follows the import of a player with the marketing capacity to unlock the lucrative Asian market and perhaps it’s understandable that not all supporters are jumping out of their seat at the prospect of the South Korean making the move to N17.
But regardless of what Son might bring to the club off the pitch, he also has the capacity to have a profound effect on the field of play. His signing might please Levy, but don’t think for five minutes that Son might find himself out of his depth in the white side of North London.
After joining the Bundesliga side at the tender age of only 16, Son has had to endure the usual sort of labeling that comes with such a high-profile at such a young age. Certainly, the ‘Asian Lionel Messi’ was a tag did little to encourage his development when he first arrived on German shores.
But if the pressure did little to aid his evolution from a fledgling, enigmatic youth player, it’s not done much to harm him, either.
Still three months off his 21st birthday, Son can already lay claim to 13 caps for his country, 67 top-flight appearances for Hamburg and an extremely impressive 17 Bundesliga goals to go with them – nine of which have come during the 2012/13 campaign.
The finished article, Son most certainly is not, but don’t let his age belie his capabilities. Equally adept with either foot, Son offers a threat from anywhere across a front attacking three and what’s more, he doesn’t seem to have a preference where, either.
“I don’t care where I play,” were the South Korean’s words upon breaking into the team in Hamburg.
“The main thing is I’m in the game. I can play right, left, as a forward or behind. What the coach says, I’ll do. I don’t have a favourite position. I’ll be anywhere and always on the throttle.”
With Tottenham’s lack of attacking potency past the duo of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon being woefully exposed in recent games, oh how Villas-Boas’ side could do with Son’s talents now, as opposed to three or four months down the track.
He offers pace, close control, an admirable work ethic but most importantly, a goal threat when positioned out on the flank. This season has seen the South Korean stationed out on the right-hand side more often than not for Thorsten Fink’s side and while supporters will be mindful of the worth that they place on current incumbent Aaron Lennon, Son would offer Villas-Boas a completely different option in terms of setting his side up.
The notion of recreating the 4-3-3 that the Portuguese enjoyed so much success with at Porto has largely been made redundant due to several factors, but the lack of another goalscoring winger has been one of the most poignant. Son’s composure in front of goal could open some more doors for Villas-Boas tactically and ease some of the goalscoring burden that Bale has had to shoulder for far too long this season.
For as efficient as Son might be in front of goal, despite his ability to play as a central striker he wouldn’t really offer Spurs a viable option as a long-term centre forward and that must be the priority at White Hart Lane this summer. But should the 20-year-old continue to stall upon a new deal at Hamburg, there’s absolutely no reason why the club shouldn’t pay the rumoured £8.5million fee that the German club are asking for.
Even at such a cut-price figure, there can be no denying that any deal to take Heung-Min Son to White Hart Lane will be something of a gamble. But if the £15million that Manchester United have recently shelled out to take Wilfried Zaha to Old Trafford can be deemed as something resembling a good investment, then Son’s signature must surely be a potential steal.
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