A flurry of transfer activity, featuring many highly-rated European and South American youngsters, Tottenham have emerged as this year’s side to watch, especially with the title race now touted to be open to a number of differing parties. Splashing over £100m on new players isn’t a summer to be sniffed at, despite the low net spend from the capital club, and Tottenham look to be a promising and evolving prospect as Andre Villas-Boas looks to mould together a stronger squad without the game-changing Gareth Bale. Often the man to make the difference for his former club Schalke, Lewis Holtby was tipped for a more important role at White Hart Lane this season, before seven new faces came through the doors, three of which promise to add plenty of competition for the German youngster. Realistically therefore, it will be tough for the 22-year-old to fight his way to prominence at Tottenham during the current campaign, but should Holtby be more readily considered than he is at present?
Take a look at Spurs’ incomings. Etienne Capoue and Paulinho add two additional physical presences to a midfield that could already boast of Sandro, and to some extent Mousa Dembele. The arrival of Christian Eriksen promises to add some creativity and guile to Villas-Boas’ midfield trio, but there can be no reason why Holtby can’t look to challenge the Danish international to the role of a more attack-minded and advanced playmaker. Both players boast vision and passing range, despite Eriksen perhaps being the more renowned and refined of the two in question, but, with a congested fixture list to contend with, there is certainly scope for Holtby to play a creative part in Spurs’ European campaign.
Last season Holtby picked up two assists in 12 appearances; by no means a jaw-dropping feat from the former Bundesliga man, but with 25% of chances he created coming from the edge of the area, Holtby to could be the ideal supply line to Roberto Soldado – something that has been reluctantly forthcoming in Spurs’ low-scoring Premier League exploits. Throw in the seven assists that Holtby managed for Schalke in the first half of the season, and the German u-21 certainly shows playmaker potential.
An important presence in the number 10 role for Schalke, Holtby managed four goals for the Gelsenkirchen side before his January switch to England. Capable of unlocking a defence, and equally good at arriving in the box, Holtby might not be the best option for Spurs’ current system, but there’s definitely potential for the German to be utilised as a intermediary between the recently isolated Soldado and the Tottenham midfield. Armed with the ability to weight a pass nicely and put the right pace on the ball to make things easy for his teammate, having Holtby in the side could give Soldado a few more chances to play with.
With a couple of goals for Spurs’ U21 set-up following his recovery from a knock on international duty, there is clearly a goal-scoring side to the 22-year-old. A couple of rather impressive headers show his desire to get into the opposition penalty area at any given opportunity.
Retaining possession is key for any Tottenham player keen on maintaining their place in the starting line-up, and an 84% pass completion rate for both Tottenham and Schalke last season shows that the German is at least consistent. Spurs were a little sluggish last season, with Gareth Bale often relied upon for attacking impetus, but Holtby may now be the man to provide that incisive spark that is lacking a touch from the current Spurs midfield. Christian Eriksen will presumably be the favourite to take the role of playmaker, but Holtby is a worthy competitor, and following the departure of youngster Tom Carroll on loan, there’s certainly scope for the former Schalke man to get some much-needed minutes under his belt.
Does Lewis Holtby have a future at White Hart Lane? Given Spurs’ congested fixture list of Europa League and Premier League games, it seems likely that the former Germany Under-21 captain will get his fair share of first-team action this campaign, just perhaps not in the big clashes.
Likely to figure as Eriksen’s understudy, the young midfielder does have potential to be an excellent attacking prospect from midfield, but there is a sense of being at the right club at the wrong time for Holtby. A loan move would by no means be detrimental for the former Schalke man, as first team minutes will be key for him to flourish, but Holtby should have something to offer at Spurs this season. It may take a while for AVB to mess with his (mostly)winning formula that has seen his side acquit themselves solidly in the dawn of the season, but should Soldado continue to be starved of opportunities, either Eriksen or Holtby should be able to share the burden of creativity in a midfield of powerhouses.
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Topics: Lewis Holtby