Nuno Santo’s return to UEFA Europa Conference League action on Thursday evening as they welcome Slovenian champions NS Mura to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Things have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks, having lost three straight heavy defeats in the Premier League after Sunday’s north London disappointment.
The Portuguese head coach blamed himself for his team selection at the Emirates Stadium and he will have plenty to ponder ahead of kickoff this evening.
One of Spurs’ biggest issues right now is in the final third – they look lacklustre in attack and have really struggled to score goals, even when they were winning, it was merely by a 1-0 margin.
After six league games, Spurs rank last for average number of shots per game (9.3) and sit second-bottom for expected goals (5.47 xG), which only goes to show just how severe the problem is at the club.
The likes of Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli have consistently failed to step up to be the team’s main creator in attacking midfield. It’s been a massive, and underlying, issue ever since Christian Eriksen departed for Inter Milan in January 2020.
However, the difference is, Nuno could well have a solution right under his nose, thanks to the moves sporting director Fabio Paratici made in the transfer market this summer.
He managed to offload the injury-prone Erik Lamela and in return, secured a promising Spanish gem in Bryan Gil – a flair player capable of pulling the strings and linking the midfield to the attack.
The 20-year-old wizard simply has to start this evening if the Portuguese is to turn things around. He’s now under mounting pressure to deliver results and Gil would aid his chances substantially.
Valued at £27m, the Spain U21 international has already been likened to the Danish playmaker, as well as another former Spurs midfield dynamo, Luka Modric.
“I think they’ve just got to nail down that role for him. As soon as they nail down that role, 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,” said 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.”
Gil averaged 1.7 crosses and 1.9 key passes per 90 in La Liga last season, as per WhoScored, which certainly suggests that he’s a player that looks to create chances frequently.
This season, Heung-min Son and Steven Bergwijn top the charts, managing 1.5 key passes per 90 but these are returns still below that of the young prodigy.
There’s only so long he can continue to count on his more senior figures, especially as they continue to let him down.
Gil must start against Mura this evening. It could be a game-changing call from a manager under intense scrutiny right now.