Connect in the back of the net

Fernando Llorente was signed to replace the disappointing Vincent Janssen. The Dutchman barely scored a goal last season, but he was hardly a complete waste of a man.

Llorente is an entirely different player to Janssen, and to the player who they have been understudy for, Harry Kane.

Although his appearances have been limited to date, Llorente is yet to flourish in this Spurs team. Aside from Kane, few strikers have in years. A plethora of reasons have been given, but it’s an unforgiving role as centre forward in Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Llorente appeared from the bench against Manchester United, but Spurs were at a loss with how to utilise the 6 foot 5 inch Spaniard. Far from the sort of battering ram centre forward that can be expected with that height, Llorente is a link-up man. Superb with his back to goal, and a threat in the air, he is an alternative rather than a Kane mark II.

Where Kane will feed off the balls into the channels, and drop into wider areas to receive, Llorente will function in the width of the box. Kane can operate in an almost isolated role, but – as with many less mobile forwards – Llorente needs support. To bring the best from the former Swansea man runners must get close in transition.

Short of an aerial bombardment that might be seen fit for Andy Carroll, Spurs have to change their build-up if Llorente’s spell at the club is to be more successful than Roberto Soldado’s or Janssen’s. The wing-backs regularly find their way to the final third, but what were once balls fizzed across the goal can become hanging crosses for the towering ex-Bilbao man.

Whether Pochettino will make a habit of the Llorente-Kane partnership is yet to be discovered, but it could be a fun experiment in the dying minutes of chasing games. His real usage, though, will be as a relief for Kane.

A partnership with the ever-impressive Heung-min Son could be the way forward for Llorente as a Lilywhite. The personnel around him is less almost irrelevant if they do not alter their service.

Matches like their frustrating encounter with Crystal Palace lend themselves to their summer signing, but he must be given a fighting chance to prove that backup to Kane is no poisoned chalice.

 

Written by Sam Cox

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_

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