Why Christian Eriksen leaving wouldn’t be Spurs’ biggest issue this season


    Christian Eriksen’s future will remain in doubt until the European transfer window closes, but even if the Dane does leave, he wouldn’t be Tottenham’s most significant departure.

    Eriksen is without doubt one of Tottenham’s best players, but Mauricio Pochettino’s business this summer has fully prepared the club for when he inevitably moves on.

    Giovani Lo Celso, who was signed from Real Betis, is a ready-made replacement for Eriksen; the Argentine provides goals and assists from an attacking midfield position.

    Last season, Lo Celso contributed to 22 goals (16 goals, six assists), which is just five fewer than Eriksen (10 goals, 17 assists).

    It should be considered that while Eriksen was playing for a side that finished third in the Premier League and reached the Champions League final, Lo Celso was part of mid-table La Liga side.

    With that being said, Lo Celso is clearly a top-class attacking midfielder, and should he settle into the Premier League, he will be more than capable of filling Eriksen’s boots – should he remain in North London or not.

    Club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele is also able to occupy the attacking midfield position if required, and with no other notable midfielder’s leaving Tottenham this summer, they are arguably stronger in the centre of the park regardless of Eriksen’s future.

    The area where Pochettino’s side have got significantly weaker though, is at the top end of the pitch.

    Back-up striker Fernando Llorente was quietly released at the end of last season, and as the summer transfer window wore on, it was clear that replacing the Spaniard was low down on Pochettino’s list of priorities.

    With no replacement brought in before the window closed, it leaves Tottenham with just one recognised number nine – England striker Harry Kane.

    Kane may be a fantastic striker, but he will be unable to lead the line for every single game this season. The responsibility will then fall to Heung-min Son, who showed his ability up front while Kane was injured during the latter stages of last season.

    The issue is that Son is likely to start on the wing while Kane is fit, meaning the South Korean would be asked to play an unsustainable amount of football, if he is needed to provide cover for the striking position too.

    In a situation where both Kane and Son are unavailable, Pochettino would likely turn to Lucas Moura, who demonstrated his eye for goal in the Champions League last term, but the Brazilian is far from a natural number nine.

    What made Llorente so useful as a backup option for Tottenham was his size and aerial prowess – qualities that are absent among Spurs current second-choice forwards.

    The 34-year-old was particularly effective coming on as a substitute in the closing minutes of games, and had a hand in 13 goals in 2018-19 (Eight goals, five assists).

    Perhaps what makes the release of Llorente so baffling is the fact that he was used so frequently last season.

    The former Swansea frontman features 35 times for Tottenham last season, an increase on the 31 appearances he made in his first term at the club.

    That increase was largely down to the injury Kane sustained, but who’s to say that he, or indeed Son or Lucas, won’t endure another spell in the treatment room this season?

    With the additions of Lo Celso and Ndombele, Tottenham have without a doubt improved their midfield, while preparing for the eventuality of Eriksen leaving.

    But by releasing Llorente with no replacement brought in, Pochettino is taking a massive risk at the top end of the pitch.

    Perhaps Tottenham’s season will once again rely on the form and fitness of Harry Kane.