Nuno Santo must turn to Tottenham Hotspur gem Bryan Gil in a bid to spoil Newcastle United’s party at St James’ Park this afternoon.
The Magpies crowd will be in full force following their long-awaited takeover by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium and even though Steve Bruce remains in the dugout, the atmosphere is expected to be electric.
Spurs know that they need to build on their victory against Aston Villa last time out, especially as they had lost the previous three in a heavy and embarrassing fashion.
For all of the positives against the Midlands outfit, there were still problems bubbling beneath the surface. The north Londoners remain amongst the least creative teams in the top-flight and that has got to change sooner rather than later.
As per WhoScored, the Lilywhites rank second-bottom for average number of shots per game, managing only 10.4 attempts, which is lower than all of the teams currently occupying a spot in the relegation zone.
Similarly, Spurs are amongst the bottom three in the Premier League for expected goals, registering an xG of just 7.25, via Understat. Only basement boys Norwich City and Watford have recorded fewer.
Truth be told, the club haven’t really filled the void left behind by Christian Eriksen, who left N17 for Milan in January 2020.
Neither Tanguy Ndombele nor Giovani Lo Celso have stepped up in his absence, having both been signed in the previous summer, whilst Dele Alli’s struggles have been well-documented.
However, there could well be a solution already at the club, largely thanks to the transfer dealings of Italian sporting director Fabio Paratici. He secured a shrewd move for Gil in the summer, shipping the injury-prone Erik Lamela to Sevilla in return.
The 20-year-old magician is still adapting to life in England but has been touted to achieve big things in his career. After all, he’s already picked up four caps for Spain and is also valued at a whopping £27m by Transfermarkt.
Gil averaged 1.7 crosses and 1.9 key passes per 90 in La Liga last season, via WhoScored, proving to be a creative influence in attacking midfield.
“I think we’re going to see a very talented young player coming to the fore. He’s kind of got a bit of everything: he can pass, he can dribble, he’s very creative, he has clever movement,” explained football.london’s Alasdair Gold.
“They’ve just got to decide, is he a guy that can ultimately become the new Eriksen, because the more and more I watch him play, I think the ability’s there to do that. Some have even made a Modric comparison and said, maybe he could end up coming even deeper and becoming that kind of player.”
On that evidence, you can see exactly why he could be the man to usurp the likes of Ndombele and Lo Celso for the no.10 role.
Also lauded for having “unbelievable amounts of technique” by ESPNUK editor David Cartlidge, Gil’s technical ability and flair could be exactly what Nuno needs this afternoon.
The Portuguese boss must unleash the youngster, who football scout Jacek Kulig dubbed a “big talent“, at St James’ Park as he has the ability and skillset to ruin the Magpies’ afternoon.
AND in other news, Nuno Santo hints at Spurs injury blow ahead of Newcastle clash…