“The ball spins loose in midfield, Bissouma gets his foot to it and with instant control glides past Casemiro. He looks up and sees Maddison in space. Filtering the ball through the red shirts he finds his man.
First time, Maddison flicks the ball round the corner and Son is onto it in a flash. He bursts through the defence and knocks it past Onana, before the keeper brings in him down unceremoniously in the box. There is no hesitation from the referee. Penalty! We are only six minutes into the game and Har…”
The commentator’s voice dies. On the pitch too, the players seem confused, looking at each other looking perplexed. Shoulders are shrugged, eyebrows are raised and no one knows what to do.
Now I hope you will excuse my fictional opening here. Firstly, the Tottenham players know who their penalty taker will be, and secondly, the ludicrous notion that a penalty would go against Manchester United after their goalkeeper has just cleared out a player illegally.
But the question remains. Who will be Spurs’ ‘Spot Kick King’, now that Herr Kane is no longer in the building?
There are few ‘safe’ feelings in sport, but for me, one of them was a Tottenham penalty being scored when Harry was on the pitch. Now, without that blanket, I feel a little exposed and in need of someone else to step forward and reassure me with their ability to score from twelve yards. However, the picking in terms of experience are relatively slim.
So, who are the main contenders?
South Korean Courage
The first contender is the new skipper himself. Captaining both club and country, Son would without doubt step up and take responsibility.
However, while his intentions may be good, his penalty record is not quite of the calibre you would expect of someone whose finishing, at times, can be so ruthless.
Out of twelve penalties he has taken, he has only converted seven (TransferMarkt).
Some of those have been in high-pressure games against the might of Lebanon and Iraq for his country, but he has only scored one in the Premier League (vs Southampton). The only other Premier League penalty he took was saved by Pepe Reina, during his largely forgotten stint at Aston Villa.
Sonny also has the ignominious honour of having a penalty disallowed against Rochdale for stopping in his run-up.
Conclusion: Thanks for stepping up, but leave it to someone else.
New Number 10. New Penalty Taker?
James Maddison, in possibly the most protracted squad number announcement of all time, has assumed the number 10 shirt, previously worn by the aforementioned Harry Kane. He may be hoping, that penalty-taking duties come as part of the deal.
Indeed, his record is not bad from the spot, having found the net 75% of the time, burying six out of his eight attempted. However, closer scrutiny reveals that his record in the Premiership is 50/50, scoring two and missing the same number (TransferMarkt).
You can tell that he would want to take them. Can’t you just see it? Pausing theatrically at the start of his run-up, hands on hips; perfectly coiffured hair swept back and steely eyes fixed on the target. He wants to be the man.
Conclusion: Definitely in with a shout, but I’m not thoroughly convinced.
He’s Got to Score Somehow!
Another option is the man, who for now, is spearheading the Tottenham attack. The Brazilian, Richarlison, has actually, somewhat to my surprise, been very effective from the spot throughout his career – scoring seven and only missing the one solitary penalty (TransferMarkt).
However, that one miss was a big one – in the Olympic final for Brazil against Spain. In the Premier League he has a perfect record netting four out of four for Everton.
My other concern would be that full-throttle, full-confidence Richarlison taking penalties for Everton is one thing, but the current version, who has accrued more bookings than goals for the club, may not be in the best frame of mind.
Knowing his luck, he’d score and rip off his shirt in celebration, only to be told one of his teammates had encroached into the box. Which would be low-key amusing (if we were three or four up mind you).
Conclusion: Start scoring from open play first, then you can have a pop.
A Swede Left Foot
We are now in the realms of those who can definitely not be referred to as ‘regulars’ – not that anyone on this list could be in all honesty. Dejan Kulusevski has the perfect record. Three taken – three scored (TransferMarkt).
Admittedly, only one was in men’s football, the other two coming in under-21 fixtures. Yet there is something about Deki which hints that he might have the temperament to be our new penalty king.
The Swede seems a relaxed kind of guy and you could just imagine a languid run-up for he strokes it into the net. My one concern would be he would take penalties like he plays and just try and bend every one into the top left corner. When they go in they’d look fantastic though, but how many would fly wide or over.
Conclusion: He’d be up for it, but I think others would want it just a little bit more.
A Left (Back) Field Option
Close your eyes and imagine this… It’s 2018 and a very young Destiny Udogie stands over the ball.
In the white-hot, febrile atmosphere of an Italian Under-17 league fixture, the Italian youth player has the chance to give Hellas Verona the lead against Cittadella. Almost certainly, the commentator (if indeed there was one) makes an obvious comment about his first name as he waits for the whistle.
It blows and Udogie steps forward and fires the ball like an Exocet missile into the top corner. The keeper is rooted to the spot having not even seen it.
Yes, this is true. Weirdly, the only other player who has scored a non-shootout penalty in the current Spurs first-team squad – excluding Veliz (1/1) and the potentially Napoli-bound Gio Lo Celso (2/4) – is the young Italian, who scored the colourfully described penalty above*.
I always love it when unusual penalty takers, especially full-backs get the nod to take set pieces – so maybe the answer is obvious?
Conclusion: It’s Destiny. It’s got to be him.
So, there we have it. Hopefully, we will win a penalty at some point this season – optimistically against United at the weekend; then we will see who the heir to the penalty throne will be, and we can all laugh at this list when Micky Van de Ven delivers a perfect Panenka.
For the record, another Spurs player did score a rather important penalty in a pivotal World Cup game, but I’m not going down that avenue right now, it wouldn’t be wise…
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