The Rising Son of White Hart Lane
Son Heung-Min's outstanding form has been the story of Spurs' season so far, but it hasn't always been easy for the South Korean at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham Hotspur’s quietly impressive start to the season has recently been headlined by the blistering form of Son Heung-Min. After not featuring at all during the first three games of Spurs’ Premier League campaign, the South Korean winger has become one of the first names on the team-sheet after a series of outstanding displays. His form has helped Spurs to their best start to a league season for more than 50 years as they remain unbeaten and lie second in the table. Here is a look at Son's Spurs career so far and analysis of his fine early season form.
Fitful First Season
Since joining Tottenham in the summer last year, Son has played a bit-part role at most under Mauricio Pochettino. While his Spurs career started promisingly with 3 goals in his first 4 games, a foot injury sustained during Spurs’ emphatic 4-1 victory over Manchester City saw Son sidelined for six weeks. The improving form of other players during this time meant the rest of Son’s season was mostly resigned to cup and substitute appearances.
He made 28 league appearances for Spurs during his first season, with 15 of those coming from the bench. He bagged 4 league goals and managed just 1 assist, a paltry return for a player who had reached double figures in his last three seasons.
Son made 12 further appearances for Spurs, most of these coming in the Europa League. He managed to score 3 goals in 7 appearances in this competition, showing occasional glimpses of what he could offer to Spurs’ attack without ever finding the consistency needed to earn a regular starting place.
Son’s form and importance to Tottenham’s season so far has been made all the more surprising by a turbulent summer, during which it looked like he may depart White Hart Lane. Subbed off at half-time during Spurs’ 5-1 capitulation to relegated Newcastle on the final day, Son’s future at Spurs was put in doubt by Pochettino’s post-match comments claiming the performance had helped him make his mind up on certain players’ futures.
Son then expressed his desire to play at the Olympics for South Korea, a decision that was initially met with reluctance by the club, seemingly pushing his future at the Lane into even more uncertainty. Eventually, the club allowed him to play, but his ultimately fruitless Olympic campaign meant that he would go on to miss the beginning of Spurs’ season.
The press then reported that Spurs had received a bid of around £24 million from Wolfsburg for Son, a sizeable offer which many expected the club to accept. Taking this offer would have seen the club make a profit on a player that had not quite managed to meet expectations during his debut season. Mauricio Pochettino recently admitted he considered letting the forward return to the Bundesliga, but decided to resist and offered the Korean another shot at Spurs.
Allowed another chance at the Lane, Son has burst back into the Spurs team with aplomb. After impressing Pochettino in training, he earned his first start of the season in the match away at Stoke. Son put in a match-winning performance, scoring two goals as Spurs ran out 4-0 winners. The second of his brace was a beautiful goal, curling a first-time shot over the keeper from just outside the box.
Son then put in a fantastic performance on the left-wing as Spurs continued their unbeaten start in the league with a 1-0 win over Sunderland.
His fine form continued against Middlesbrough as he bagged another double, both of his goals at the Riverside being of the highest quality. He showed fantastic composure for the first, feinting to shoot twice before curling a left-footed shot beyond the keeper. Son then showed his tenacity as he somehow retained possession on the left before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner for his second.
The latest of his goalscoring exploits was the winner away at CSKA Moscow, giving Spurs their first Champions League victory and securing a vital three points to put them second in their group.
Son has now scored 5 goals in his last 5 appearances in all competitions. 4 of these have come in his 3 Premier League appearances, complemented by 1 assist. He is averaging 1 goal every 68 minutes in the league so far this season, the best ratio in the country. From his 3 league appearances he has received 2 man-of-the-match awards.
His likeable personality, industrious work-rate and fantastic footballing skills have begun to endear the South Korean to the Spurs faithful. The fans will now be desperate for him to find the consistency he has been lacking in order for both him and the club to really push on this season.
With golden boot winner Harry Kane currently injured and new signing Vincent Janssen misfiring, Spurs have needed someone to fill a goalscoring void, a role that Son has embraced fully so far. The question is whether he can maintain this form and become a player of real, sustained importance for Spurs in a key season for the club as they look to consolidate their place among England’s footballing elite.