Earlier today, we secured our second signing of the summer: Nacer Chadli from FC Twente, for a fee of around £7 million.
As we know, Andre Villas-Boas does like to surprise people with his team selections, but Chadli is expected to fill in on the left-wing for Spurs. This means that we won’t need to rely on Lewis Holtby, Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson to be of use, out of position, on the left. Although these players (Sigurdsson especially) played well out wide last season, Chadli should bring another dimension to our wing play, and allow others to play in their more natural positions.
Chadli’s goalscoring record is impressive for FC Twente, as he has racked up 26 goals in the last two seasons, from just 49 appearances in all competitions. Chadli clearly has an eye for a goal, and if he could bring this to England and score regularly, he would be a valuable addition for such a small fee. It is vital for all three members of the attack in a 4-3-3 to be accomplished in front of goal, and Chadli certainly has shown that he is a quality finisher over the past two seasons for Twente. Chadli also brings, as I mentioned earlier, ‘another dimension’ to our attacking build-up play. Time and time again last season, we saw how Sigurdsson and Dempsey couldn’t beat their marker down the inside, like Aaron Lennon could on the opposite side. The less said about Lewis Holtby on the left the better. Sigurdsson and Dempsey found themselves drifting in-field or dropping deep to collect the ball more often than not, and in doing so, taking virtually all pressure of our opposition’s right full-back. Although Sigurdsson and Dempsey were awkward to mark at times, and did still manage to play well and score some crucial goals for us, having such one dimensional wide players is so easy to defend against, and meant that our attacks were far too narrow. Our opposition defenders and midfielders crowded the space just outside our penalty box, making space very difficult to find for the likes of Sigurdsson, Lennon, Adebayor and Dembele. The harsh reality is, if it wasn’t for the utter brilliance of Gareth Bale, and his unstoppable shots from outside of the area time and time again, our failure to break teams down would have been more noticeable, and many more teams would have come away from White Hart Lane with a clean sheet to their name.
So how does Chadli change things? Imagine a Spurs attack, but this time with the more direct Nacer Chadli replacing Dempsey or Sigurdsson on the left-hand side. Chadli, like Sigurdsson and Dempsey, is right-footed and likes to come inside from his wing and look to get in goal scoring positions. However, Chadli also possesses the pace, trickery and agility to beat his marker on either side, meaning in some ways he offers danger on two fronts, inside and out. Chadli has the ability to take the full-back two different ways, something which Dempsey and Sigurdsson really could not do. Chadli can cut inside and take his marker towards goal and look to get a shot away, or beat him on the inside and look to whip in a cross for Adebayor, Bale or hopefully Roberto Soldado to get on the end of. This unpredictability will force opposition full-backs to be more alert, and mark Chadli tightly, and they will be under more pressure than if Sigurdsson or Dempsey were their man. As we know, the more tightly a winger is marked, the more space becomes available in the centre of the pitch. More space for Gareth Bale to play with in our case. Obviously this is a positive, and is yet another way in which Chadli’s presence benefits us.
A lot has also been made of how Chadli and Bale will play as ‘interchangeable wingers’ next season. Although I imagine Gareth Bale will play in more of a ‘free role’ to Chadli, the wing forwards in our 4-3-3 formation next season will definitely be given more of a license to roam about the pitch than in our previous 4-2-3-1 formation. Expect both Chadli and Bale to pick the ball up on either side of the pitch at certain times next season. Chadli has all the attributes to take defenders on and beat them from the right, and will surely have to do this at some stage next season. More often than not though, Chadli will take up position on the left, with Gareth Bale having more of a free role.
Another thing worth bearing in mind, is the role that Nacer Chadli plays for the Belgium national side. He plays slightly deeper, and in a more central role for The Red Devils, as the most advanced midfielder in a 4-3-3. This is a very similar role to the one Mousa Dembele is expected to be deployed in for Tottenham next season. Chadli has started alongside the likes of Axel Witsel, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Defour in Belgium’s midfield three in recent times, so obviously is fairly accomplished in this midfield role if he has been selected to play there amongst such household names. Given the injury problems that Mousa Dembele had last season, I believe there is a chance that we could see Chadli deployed in midfield at times next season. A midfield of Paulinho, Sandro and Chadli sounds miraculous, and the re-shuffle in the absence of Dembele would allow Aaron Lennon or Andros Townsend to get game time on the flanks, something which they will both need.
In conclusion, the signing of Nacer Chadli is a very intelligent one by Franco Baldini, Andre Villas-Boas and Daniel Levy. He can offer increased diversity to Tottenham’s attacks, as well as provide cover for players in other positions. I am excited to see Chadli in a Spurs shirt next season, and feel that he could be a vital goalscoring component of Andre’s new 4-3-3 system. Welcome to Spurs, Nacer Chadli.
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