Tottenham have stepped up their interest in AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek, according to reports.
Harry Kane was ruled out until April with a hamstring injury. Manager Jose Mourinho even hinted the England striker could miss the Euros.
This leaves Spurs without a recognised senior first-team striker for a significant period of time after allowing the contract of Fernando Llorente, now at Napoli, to expire last summer. Unless they look to the January transfer window, that is.
Tottenham chasing Piatek to replace Kane? Five things to know…
- Tottenham have ‘stepped up their interest’ in Piatek to help replace the injured Kane, the Times wrote last week.
- Piatek, 24, has scored four league goals in 18 games this season but enjoyed a good breakthrough campaign in 2018/19…
- …where he managed 22 league goals in 37 games, compared to Kane’s 17 in 28.
- The arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes Piatek less indisposable to Milan.
- But Mourinho refused to be drawn on Piatek in a recent press conference: “Imagine if I speak about Piatek, is he happy that I speak about him?” There are also now reports in Italy claiming Sevilla will rival Spurs to his signing.
Do Spurs need a Kane replacement?
Previously when Kane has been missing through short-term injuries, Spurs have relied upon Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura to fill in for their talisman, and the pair have always performed.
But for the extended period of time Kane will be out, which will include the Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig and potentially a quarter-final should they get there, Tottenham may need a specialised striker given Mourinho’s style of play. Throughout his managerial career, the Portuguese has opted to deploy a main focal point in attack, capable of not only providing a clinical edge but also a physical presence. Examples of centre-forwards signed to occupy this role include Romelu Lukaku at United, Diego Costa during his second spell at Chelsea and, of course, Didier Drogba during the first.
What kind of player is Piatek?
In his own words:
My two favourite centre-forwards are Lewandowski and Harry Kane. Perhaps, I have characteristics more similar to those of [the Englishman]. – Piatek, in a 2018 interview with Serie A
So a childhood spent supporting Arsenal has not stopped Piatek developing a fondness for the Spurs player he could soon replace. To briefly sum up his career so far:
- 2018: Genoa plucked him from nowhere (well, technically Cracovia, the oldest club still going in Polish football) and watched their £3m signing score in each of the Serie A campaign’s opening seven matches, the first player to do so since Gabriel Batistuta in 1994/95.
- 2019: Six months later he was sold to AC Milan for about 10 times what Genoa had paid for him. There, with nine goals in 18 Serie A appearances, Piatek impressed sufficiently to earn the No.9 shirt number he had initially requested from I Rossoneri.
- 2020: Unfortunately, it seems that shirt number is as much cursed as it is prestigious. Just ask Alexandre Pato, Mattia Destro and Gonzalo Higuain. His last non-penalty goal in Serie A came last October in a 2-2 draw with Lecce. In fact, that was his only such goal in 1,189 top-flight minutes this season, having scored each of his other three from the spot. In Milan’s two league games since Ibrahimovic came in, he was replaced after 55 minutes in one and an unused sub in the other.
Piatek is widely regarded as one of the more traditional No.9. The fact he has never assisted a Serie A goal attests to this, as does smarterscout’s visual guide to his style of play, where he scores highest when it comes to shooting and contesting aerial duels. This may have resembled the Kane of several seasons ago, but Spurs’ No.10 has been gradually adopting the responsibilities of an actual No.10 for a while now and it shows in his ever-increasing tendency to ‘pass toward goal’ rather than shoot at it.
More concerning will be the fact that this season, according to smarterscout data analysis of statistical output this Serie A season so far, Piatek is considered a ‘low performer’ when adjusted to a Premier League standard.
Is this the version of Piatek Spurs are reportedly in talks to recruit? Or is Mourinho the man to get ‘Il Pistolero’ firing at his previous Batistuta-esque levels of goalscoring? The gunslinger celebration was out in force during Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia win over Spal, after all, a game in which Piatek also actually set up one of his teammates.