Tottenham & Clinton N’Jie: Speed, please


Sky Sports are the latest outlet to claim that Tottenham are pursuing Lyon’s rapid forward/winger Clinton N’Jie and, given that the club desperately, desperately need an auxiliary forward option, that seems to make some kind of sense.

The obvious caveat applies, though: this story has gone back-and-forth all Summer and none of the information about it is yet coming from definitively reliable sources.

Here’s some interesting reading about N’Jie from France Football Weekly’s Peter Sharland.

That’s all nice and positive and maybe FFW’s point about N’Jie’s use from wide positions is particularly pertinent, given that Spurs so obviously lacked that kind of utility at Old Trafford on Saturday.  While the performance in general was far better in terms of its shape and its cohesion than the one at Upton Park a year ago, the forward phases too often broke down as a result of a lack of advanced options.

Harry Kane’s default is not to go beyond the back-shoulder of a defender and so, consequently, whenever a creative player or a central-midfield has possession in an opponent’s half, Tottenham end up playing a lot of their football in front of that defence.  Kane can make the kind of runs which turn centre-backs around, but he’s more comfortable - and more effective - when he drops slightly deeper to pick up the ball in areas which allow him to be creative as well as dynamic.

Similarly, whilst Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli do a lot of things well - quite well, at least - in the final-third, neither are likely to stretch a defence and, in both cases, their initial instinct is always to drift in-field.  The consequence is fairly obvious: all of Spurs’ width currently has to come from full-back and because so much of their play goes through the middle of the pitch, defensively obdurate sides find it relatively easy to repel them.

It’s like coming up against a road-block in the final thirty yards: other than when they’re able to retrieve the ball in transition, Spurs have to become overly intricate and precise in order to create chances and they really need to have the ability to diversify that approach.

This must be sorted, whether through the signing of N’Jie or somebody else.  He seems a very suitable target on the basis that he can cover two positions and also provide the required pitch-stretching pace, but - whether its an issue solved in one transfer or two - Tottenham can’t go into September without ticking both of those boxes.

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