Nacer Chadli is a funny one.
2014: Joins Spurs – doesn’t really do much.
2015: Improves drastically, scores vital goals at vital times. Good on ya, Nacer.
2016: Sold to West Brom for £13m (but Heung-min Son stays)
The mind boggles.
In fact, there’s a serious case to be made that selling Chadli may be the reason that Spurs fall short in yet another title bid – perhaps even falling out of the top four (despite having the second-best left back in the Premier League).
In the 2014-15 season, the Belgian netted 13 times – the third-highest number of goals a Spurs winger or midfielder has netted since Paul Gascoigne in 1991. The players above him? Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale – that’s pretty decent company!
However, what made Chadli stand out at Spurs was his ability to find the net at crucial times. The Belgian international – although not in the same bracket as Harry Kane in terms of scoring regular goals – netted when it really counted, scoring against London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal during his time at White Hart Lane.
We’re not talking consolation tap-ins in a 5-1 drubbing here either; he scored in the legendary 5-3 win over Chelsea in 2015 and also gave Spurs the lead in what turned out to be a 1-1 draw with the Gunners at the Emirates later on in the same year.
Crucial goals such as these are what makes or breaks a title-winning campaign – do Spurs have enough of these kind of players in their squad?
I mentioned earlier my disbelief at Heung-min Son staying at Spurs over Chadli. The reasons behind this are only for Pochettino to know – but as someone who watches Tottenham week in and week out, I cannot see what Son offers a top four side over Chadli.
(^ my face when someone says Son is better than Chadli)
Yes, Son does score the occasional brace or produce a worldie – but too often his quite frankly horrendous decision-making outweighs any positives that he brings to a team. A serious lack of vision in terms of picking a pass is also a huge hindrance to a team where incisive passing is integral.
The South Korean also goes missing in the big games. The best example of this is in Spurs’ Champions League loss at Monaco, which eliminated them from the competition. Son had a one-on-one opportunity within the first 10 minutes; a simple “round the keeper and score” job.
— Bill Hill (@BillHillWicklow) November 22, 2016
To say he fluffed his lines is an understatement – not only did he waste the opportunity, he then disappeared from the game and all of Tottenham’s good work last season in getting into the Champions League was undone.
Tottenham will hope that their decision to sell Chadli – and keep Son – doesn’t come back to haunt them over the rest of the season.