A report by The Athletic, which analysed Son Heung-min’s evolution since arriving at Tottenham from Bayern Leverkusen five and a half years ago, has provided some insight into why Spurs snapped up the South Korean in the first place.
The report reveals that it was Son’s running off the ball that particularly caught the eye of Mauricio Pochettino.
David Webb, who was part of Tottenham’s recruitment staff at the time, is quoted as saying: “He was a Mauricio-type player and what stood out was that at Leverkusen he played as a false nine, wide coming in, and his best asset which Mauricio liked was his running off the ball.
“The timing of his movement and his runs stood out. He was a very smart, a clever mover. Those were his outstanding attributes at this stage. And though he wasn’t the biggest, physicality is about contact but it’s also about the quality and precision of your movement, which he had.”
Pochettino has certainly been proven right by Son’s evolution over the last few years, with his movement off the ball making him a nightmare to defend against.
However, the forward did not hit the ground running at Spurs as he had a disappointing first season in North London.
The Athletic reveals that the 28-year-old came close to returning to the Bundesliga in the summer of 2016 before Pochettino told him to knuckle down and not run away from a difficult situation.
The report reveals that Son took the former Tottenham manager’s advice on board and started to work hard that pre-season which saw his effort pay dividends and forced himself back into the team.
The forward has not looked back since as he has progressively improved every single season he has been in North London.
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Pochettino certainly deserves a lot of credit for identifying Son’s potential and helping him develop the right mentality. However, I would argue that Mourinho has actually managed to make better use of South Korean’s attributes and maximise his effectiveness by giving him a slightly different role. Son spends a lot less time out wide these days and tends to get into goalscoring positions more often, which has worked wonders for him as well as the side.
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