Son Heung-min: Tottenham’s not-so-secret weapon
The Korean is enjoying what feels like a breakout season this year. RealSport examines his importance to Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Heung-Min Son is one of the most gifted attackers in the country.
That is the consensus forming rapidly around the 25-year-old, who scored his sixteenth goal of the season as Tottenham crashed out of the Champions League against Juventus on Wednesday.
The former Leverkusen man was already popular in North London but his emotional reaction during a post-match interview with BeIN Sports endeared him to Spurs fans all the more.
Fighting back the tears, he lamented the chances that his side had failed to take. It was a mixture of guilt, frustration and despair.
Son shouldn’t be too hard on himself, though. Just five goals away from last year’s total of 21, the Korean is having what feels like a break-out season.
After being a surprise omission from the first leg in Turin, Son reclaimed his place from Erik Lamela before putting in a dominant performance against the Italian champions.
His forays from the left wing were so threatening that Max Allegri saw fit to switch his tactics in the second half, converting to a back four and brining on Stephan Lichtsteiner to squeeze the available space.
Had things gone differently, however, Spurs mightn’t have been able to rely on him at all.
Talked down from the edge
After a frustrating debut season in 2016, the Korean tinkered with the idea of a move away from North London. It was only with the convincing of his manager that he was talked down from the edge,
Everybody is glad that he did. Son’s strengths are multitudinous: strong and pacy, with intelligent movement and work rate to match, his finishing is only marginally less lethal than Harry Kane. He has provided wonderful support for a team that is often unduly reliant on their star striker, whilst the two players enjoy a symbiotic relationship.
Take Kane’s raking pass against Huddersfield at the weekend to set up Son for a wonderfully-taken header: it was typical of a burgeoning relationship between two of the league’s most in-form attackers.
Son is lethal on any stage but the danger for the opposition is amplified at Wembley.
He had scored 9 goals in his last 11 appearances there before Wednesday (including four in the last week alone), whilst he has been similarly predatory in the Champions League, scoring his fourth of the campaign during Spurs ill-fated second leg.
For all his technical attributes, though, Son provides something equally crucial; width. Ben Davies might have a decent delivery but he lacks the pace to be a consistent threat in attack whilst also covering his defensive responsibilities.
Son’s stamina and speed are therefore crucial on the left-hand side, with his predilection for staying close to the touchline before cutting in.
Bigger than big
“Son is one of those players you expect amazing things from,” Mauricio Pochettino told reporters earlier in the month.
He isn’t the only one expecting big things, though. The man himself was open about his ambitions in a recent interview with FourFourTwo, confessing: “In Korea, they say that you should dream bigger than big. All football players want to win the Ballon D’or and that is one of my dreams”.
Grandiose it may be but few would argue with the fact that Heung-Min Son has rapidly become one of his team’s most important players. What is clear, is that he is only going to get better.
How crucial do you think Heung-Min Son is to Tottenham? Let us know by commenting below.