Spurs striker target could be turned into next 20-goal hitman
Shane Long’s goal in the Republic of Ireland’s friendly draw with Holland as part of their preparations for Euro 2016 took his record to five goals in his last eight matches for club and country.
His 10 goals for Southampton this season represents the first time Long has reached double figures for Premier League goals and this was despite spending the majority of the first half of the campaign attempting to make an impact from a wide role.
The latest speculation is that Tottenham are considering a summer swoop for the 29-year-old, with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, head of recruitment Paul Mitchell and assistant head coach Jesus Perez recently seen in the stands talking to Long’s agent Pat Dolan.
Such a transfer makes plenty of sense for Tottenham.
They are short of experienced striking options to provide any form of competition or back up to Harry Kane and qualification for the Champions League means they generally need a deeper squad. Pochettino coped with playing fringe and youth players this campaign in the Europa League, but such strategies are unlikely to prove as fruitful at Europe’s top table.
Furthermore, Long’s skillset matches up well to the playing style championed by Pochettino, which focuses on energy, work rate and pressing to win back possession in the final third when the opposition are not defensively set to repel any attacks.
For all that Long has failed to prove himself as a reliable finisher during his career (this is only the second time he has scored 10 or more league goals), he is a fairly rare breed in being able to work all opposing defenders almost single-handedly in attack with his movement and dedication.
And strikers of this calibre have been reliable sources of goals in recent Premier League seasons.
Luis Suarez was the top scorer in 2013/14, Diego Costa netted 20 in his maiden Premier League season in the campaign that followed after dominant lone-striker performances for Atletico Madrid and Jamie Vardy finished one adrift of Kane this term.
Saying Long is on par with this trio and capable of being Premier League top scorer in the upcoming season is a little overboard, but the fact remains that his game is suited to both the rough and tumble of England’s top flight and particularly to the way Spurs like to play.
If Pochettino or Kane could help make him a more clinical finisher, a goal return of 15-20 across all competitions next season is not an unrealistic target and this would be a worthy output for a back-up frontman.
In terms of Tottenham betting markets for the 2016/17 season, they are 7/1 to win the Premier League.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.