Signed. Sealed. Delivered – or at least that’s how it appeared; after a tough start to the season for both parties, Arnaut Danjuma was on the cusp of joining Everton (Sky Sports).
But, as we now know, that wasn’t quite the case.
The Dutchman failed to appear at Finchfarm – Everton’s training complex, instead heading south to London to complete his second medical in two days (The Guardian).
If rumours are to be believed, Danjuma met a host of the Everton squad, even shaking hands with talisman Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but just 24 hours later was pictured – officially, holding a Tottenham shirt.
But really, who can blame Danjuma? Everton are hardly an appealing prospect.
Within the last week, they’ve sacked their manager – an apparent significant factor of Danjuma’s subsequent snubbing (Daily Express), lost arguably their best player in Antony Gordon, and been put up for sale; hardly the markings of an attractive club.
Moreover, all this has happened in the midst of an on-pitch, existential crisis, with the Toffees now winless in 10 games across all competitions (Transfermarkt), priming Tottenham for an uncharacteristic, but refreshing, hijacking.
It was like talking candy from a baby, leaving the Toffees in full meltdown mode, but football’s a ruthless game, and as we’ve learned on several occasions, a signing is never done until you see him pictured in a shirt – even if those pictures had already been taken.
But now the dust has settled, why exactly did Spurs break their mould to make a last-ditch move for the Villareal winger? What’s so special about Danjuma?
The first, and perhaps most telling factor in his arrival is that at least initially, it’s a loan move with little immediate financial implications.
Tottenham clearly need upgrades, or at least reinforcements in several positions – attack being one of them, and to have a player of Danjuma’s calibre available for loan is rare.
The winger has performed well in his last few seasons; 17 goals and seven assists in the Championship in 2020/21, 16 goals and four assists in 33 appearances last season, and six goals in about 800 minutes of football in the current campaign, those are solid numbers.
Admittedly, since former Villareal boss Unai Emery has left, Danjuma has struggled for regular minutes, but his numbers speak for themselves, he’s a quality player.
He was also central to Villareal’s run to the 2012/22 Champions League semi-final, scoring crucial goals against Atalanta in the group stages and then again as they knocked out European heavyweights Juventus and Bayern Munich.
Moreover, Danjuma is comfortable playing a multitude of forward positions, being able to be deployed on his favoured left wing, but also more central or even as a false nine.
This can see him offer cover to both Son and Kane, allowing Richarlison to be more readymade cover for Kane and Kulusevski, meaning each of front line has two defined options.
And if Danjuma does set the world alright in the latter half of the season, with a reasonable buy-option of around €30m for the 26-year-old it’s not unimaginable that Spurs extend the Dutchman’s stay past this season.
Understand buy option included in the agreement between Tottenham and Villarreal for Danjuma is worth €30m plus add-ons 🚨⚪️ #THFC
Loan deal valid until June, buy option clause is not mandatory. pic.twitter.com/glm1CSREiR
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 25, 2023
If his debut is anything to go by that could well be the case, already opening his account Spurs with a cool finish past Preston keeper Freddy Woodman to put Spurs three nil up in Saturday’s FA Cup tie.
But it wasn’t just the goal that fans enjoyed about the Dutchman’s performance, his work rate and attitude also caught the eye.
Minutes after coming on, Danjuma played what would have been a lovely one-two with Kulusevski that would have seen him through on goal only for a Preston defender to get an outstretched leg in front of the ball, with Danjuma showing visible frustration at being denied the chance of a debut goal.
But even after he scored, with the game at 3-0 and as good as over, he continued to make runs in behind the defence; again frustrated when teammates didn’t see or play the pass.
Granted, this could be some adrenaline-fuelled debut energy, – wanting to impress the fans on his first outing, but nevertheless, the initial signs are positive.
And albeit, this was a 20-minute cameo in an all-but-over FA Cup tie against a Championship side, but that’s hardly Danjuma’s fault, he can only play what’s in front of him.
For Spurs, this deal looks like a win-win, as we’ve secured the services of a seemingly quality player for the rest of the season almost free of charge, and if he doesn’t meet expectations, we can part ways in the summer and re-enter the market for another option.
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