Tottenham fans have been put through the ringer while the club attempted to find decent back-up for star striker Harry Kane.
Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente both failed to provide that cover, mainly because neither could actually kick the many opportunities gifted to them into the back of the net. Always a bad sign, that.
With the England captain picking up long-term injuries in previous seasons, the need for an alternative became a necessity for Jose Mourinho this summer – and Spurs might just have hit the jackpot.
Carlos Vinicius made his Tottenham debut on Thursday night in a 3-0 win against LASK in the Europa League, and although the striker didn’t score, there were many promising signs.
The former centre back had a good goalscoring record in the Primeira Liga last season, netting 18 times in 32 appearances, but against LASK the Brazilian showed there’s more than just goals to his game.
The debutant displayed excellent vision to create Spurs’ opening goal of the game, squaring a perfectly-weighted ball into the path of Lucas Moura.
He then popped up with another assist when his cushioned header fell into the path of Son Heung-min. The in-form forward made no mistake and fired the ball into the bottom corner to net Spurs’ third and final goal of the evening. Sure, he didn’t get his goal, but Spurs fans were still very encouraged by what they saw from their new man, and rightly so.
Since the start of the season, the definition of the ‘Harry Kane back-up’ role has changed due to the striker’s incredible form.
Kane is given a free role to drop deep and loop balls over defensive lines, with Son in particular benefitting. While Vinicius probably won’t be given the same freedom, he still proved against LASK that he can fill a creative void for Spurs in Kane’s absence.
Of course, the counter-argument will be that it is ‘only’ the Europa League, and the Brazilian needs to prove himself at a higher level – but those chances will come. Standing at 6’3, Vinicius offers something different. He can be a more dominant and physical option for Mourinho, who has recently revealed he can see the Brazilian partnering Kane if he opts to play with two strikers.
Mourinho also now has the luxury of brining Vinicius on from the bench in Premier League matches. This would allow for more tactical flexibility with the option to play with two strikers, or the ability to give Kane a well-deserved rest towards the end of a match.
Let’s not forget, Vinicius also doesn’t speak English. Moura has been helping the striker settle in at Spurs, so if this is what he can offer while still finding his feet, Mourinho could eventually have a real gem at his disposal.
It’s still early days, but the foundations are in place for Vinicius after an encouraging first appearance in a Spurs shirt.