Cast your mind back to the mid-90s and picture Alan Sugar in Monaco, beside a yacht, shaking hands with German international goal-machine Jurgen Klinsmann. Jump forward to present day and picture Paulinho, in a Spurs training shirt, at the Spurs training ground not even shaking the manager’s or chairman’s hand – notice a difference?
Spurs fans have been living in hope since February that a ‘Jurgen Klinsmann’ style signing would happen this summer. The announcement that a world-class striker is arriving in N17 with plenty of time to bed-in with his new teammates before the new Premier League season kicks off. Instead, Tottenham’s main signing is a Brazilian midfielder that no one had even heard of until the Confederations Cup.
Hardly the hype Spurs fans were looking for…
Things didn’t stop there as Nacer Chadli, the Moroccan-come-Belgium international who nearly signed for Fulham, was announced as the second summer arrival at White Hart Lane. Chadli was introduced to the Tottenham faithful via a low-key statement on spurs.co.uk that merely announced the signing of the player. There was no manager comment and no hype, with Spurs throwing in some performance stats for good measure – you would forgive Spurs fans for not being blown away.
But low-key signings shouldn’t be underrated…because in Nacer Chadli, Spurs may have signed the next Cristiano Ronaldo!
It is a big statement, one that many will say is more than bold, but one that I am prepared to make. This is the intro that Tottenham should have given Chadli when they introduced him to the fans:
“I have rarely seen such a complete player like Nacer. I really do not know what he cannot do. Nacer is creative, strong, fast, has a great free-kick and he turns excellently. Everything is beautiful in him, even his face.”
That is a quote from ex-FC Twente coach Co Adriaanse, who obviously is a big Chadli fan and he is not alone. Marc Overmars, now director at Ajax, was keen to take the winger-come-forward to the Amesterdam AreaA this summer and he knows a bit about right-footed left sided wide men. Overmars’ Ajax missed out along with the likes of Liverpool, Fulham, Aston Villa, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter and Dortmund if rumours are to be believed.
How is a player that only cost around £7m going to be the next Ronaldo I hear you cry? Firstly, don’t be fooled by the ‘reasonable’ fee. Spurs managed to pick him up for the price they did for two reasons:
1. The player had his heart set on a move to the Premier League.
2. His contract would have expired in the summer of 2014 and FC Twente needed to cash-in on one of their main assets now.
You are probably wondering where the Ronaldo comparison comes from? It is nothing to do with Chadli’s slight facial resemblance to the Portuguese Adonis, but it is to do with his physical attributes. The Belgian stands 6ft 2ins tall, weighing in at 85kgs, which is almost identical to Ronaldo. Chadli’s playing style is similar, as he goes past opponents using his pace and strength in a similar fashion.
The comparisons don’t stop there; Chadli has great composure, technique, scores the odd free-kick and has a cannon of a right foot. But let’s get this right – he is a little way off being as good as Ronaldo is, but at only 23-years-old, he has enough time to realise his potential.
Ronaldo’s versatility is another attribute that the two players share, as highlighted by AVB when he spoke about the new signing: “he is extremely versatile, playing different positions up front. He has played with tremendous success on the left for Twente as a winger and as an attacker for Belgium.” Chadli has been playing more centrally for the Belgium national team, keeping out some familiar names as he becomes more important with each passing game for the Red Devils, whilst he can also play on the right – perfect for AVB adopting a more attacking 4-3-3 formation.
The Belgian’s statistics last season make impressive reading with the attacking player having got 10 goals and 5 assists in 22 Eredivisie league games and 6 goals and 6 assists in 10 Europa League games.
Nacer Chadli may be unknown, but he is another example of Spurs shrewd dealings in the transfer market. Paulinho and Chadli may not be the ‘big-name’ signings Spurs fans hoped for, but they are quality signings for good prices that have been heavily scouted by AVB and his staff.
With the latter in particular, as we have seen with Bale, if one has the physical attributes you stand a good chance of become a player that is largely unstoppable. Chadli – set to become the third Belgian in the books at Spurs - is perfect for Premier League football and will give Spurs more balance if they decide to play Bale through the middle or even up front and should also have no problem settling in.
It will be interesting to see if Spurs can continue there signings with a big-money striker, but this time next season, when you look back to the seasons gone-by, don’t be surprised if Chadli is being heralded as the signing of the season.
Spurs fans, you can follow Nacer Chadli on Twitter and Instagram (search nc22back) or better yet, you can follow Football Rascal on Twitter and Facebook by just clicking the links. It would be rude not to!