Caveats with Tottenham and Kevin Mirallas 6

Kevin Mirallas did himself no favours at all on Monday night.  If the stories are true and if he has grown restless at Everton, the penalty melodrama at Goodison Park served to do nothing beyond create a big red flag next to his name.

The Belgian may be eighteen months away from becoming a free-agent, but Bill Kenwright would still need to see a sizeable offer before being tempted to sell.

Given Mirallas’ injury-record and his tendency to oscillate violently between rich and fallow form, most clubs would likely see him as unnecessary risk - and none of those doubts will have been eased by what happened two days ago.

No, it wasn’t as big deal as some are pretending and Mirallas was probably guilty of selfish over-exuberance rather than a cavalier disregard for the team’s welfare, but it still wasn’t a great aesthetic and that moment unquestionably damaged his transfer stock.

Supposedly, Tottenham are right at the front of the queue if the player is allowed to leave and The Mirror is the latest to claim that a deal could be done this month.

That’s an odd one.

Spurs are having the better season, but in a more general sense those two clubs occupy the same rung on the football hierarchy.  Tottenham are a better-resourced side financially and in terms of their infrastructure, but Everton offer a similar-sized stage.

Mirallas’ ability is not in question, but his character very much is.  Paul Mitchell, Franco Baldini and Mauricio Pochettino will - if these stories are true - presumably be convinced of his stylistic compatibility, but if the player is feeling unfulfilled at Goodison Park, how long would he truly be content at White Hart Lane?

Maybe that’s terribly unfair on Kevin Mirallas and maybe he is in fact a model professional, but from the outside this doesn’t look that healthy - and, actually, he’s exhibiting the signs of being the kind of player who, if he were to join Spurs and if he were to be successful, would look to move further up the ladder at the first opportunity. That’s not an unfair assumption, either: since leaving Lille in 2008, Mirallas spent two years at Saint Etienne, two more at Olympiakos, and is now into his third at Everton.

This is not a player who settles.

Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t need that.  The team he is creating is built on the premise of commitment and on players buying into a certain direction over a sustained period of time - and transient footballers don’t really fit into that mix.  Pochettino preaches the value of intangible qualities to his players and prioritises the importance of emotional resilience and hard-work , but he also relies on collective harmony to ensure that his tactical approach actually works.

Similarly, a Pochettino player has to be durable and Mirallas certainly isn’t that.  2014/15 is his eleventh season as a first-team professional and he has taken part in thirty league games or more just three times.  As talented a footballer as he is, he seems particularly susceptible to muscular or hamstring injuries and, at twenty-seven, that’s not likely to remedy itself with age.  He’s not quite as injury-prone as assumed, but - at a guess - he seems to lack the physical resilience to play for a conditioning-based coach.

If there’s more substance to this than just newspaper reports, then it’s worth revisiting the topic - until then, though, let’s just say that this doesn’t quite feel right for Tottenham.

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