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27 Jun 2018

Tottenham: Hands off Son, he's going nowhere

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Son Heung-min cut a dejected figure after his beloved South Korea suffered a 2-1 defeat to Group F leaders Mexico - their second of the World Cup - that condemned them to their third group stage exit in the tournament's previous four iterations.

Tears streaming down his face, head held in his hands as the burden of failure continued to dawn on him, this character stands in stark contrast to the eternally happy player Tottenham fans have the pleasure of enjoying on a weekly basis in London, smile seemingly plastered permanently across his face.

Spurs fans can testify to the fact that they'd never seen Son this upset, perhaps bar the quarter-finals of the 2016 Olympics in which Son was guilty of profligacy against Honduras.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Son did, however, score South Korea's only goal of the World Cup at this point - a stunning 25-yard strike mustered out of sheer frustration at having to carry the Reds through every major tournament. 

It served as a mere snapshot of what Son regularly produces for Tottenham and a gentle reminder of what he's capable of.

Son has seen his global stock rise since a move to Tottenham in the summer of 2015, where he's currently three goals short of a half-century for the club.

REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

His goal against Mexico was nothing new, however, with Spurs fans well aware of Son's ability when it comes to scoring from outside the box, having done so 16 times in his career.

"I think Son is one of the players from who you always expect amazing things," Pochettino said as he continued to lavish praise on the forward, describing him as "talented... consistent and very professional."

This was only his second World Cup goal, but South Korea are forever trying to recreate their masterful run to the semi-finals in 2002, placing the burden of responsibility on the young man's shoulders.

All South Koreans have to participate in compulsory military service, and the only outs come in the form of sporting achievement, which Son has yet to achieve for his country. It's significant pressure for any one player to bear, as the cracks began to show against Mexico.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Whilst impressive, his goal didn't raise any eyebrows in north London, simply because it's what fans have come to expect of Son, but it did perhaps turn a few heads elsewhere in the Premier League as reports began to emerge citing interest from Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Is it that hard to believe?

Not only is it indicative of his quality, but as recently as the summer of 2016, Son wanted to leave Tottenham.

For him last season was tough... But it’s true from the beginning after the Olympic Games his idea was to leave to go to Germany - Mauricio Pochettino.

Following a tough first season in England and disappointment with South Korea at the Olympics, Son told Mauricio Pochettino of his desire to return to Germany, but the Argentine impressed on him his desire to retain his services and so he stayed.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Speaking in September 2016 - during Son's run of five goals in five games, in which he won the Premier League Player of the Month award -  Pochettino said that Spurs "took the decision for him to stay" and he's "very pleased now," as he's now had the "opportunity to play and show he can help."

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Since, Son has netted 14 and 12 Premier League goals in subsequent seasons, maturing into a confident winger and a vital part of the Tottenham squad. Not just in a footballing sense is Son important, but he's often branded the 'joker' of north London, pulling pranks and making his teammates laugh.

I think Sonny is funny without meaning to be. He is so happy and he is just laughing all the time - Dele Alli.

Son has individual handshakes with a majority of the Tottenham squad and the club would be unwilling to let such a unifying influence leave.

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