Hey, come on. I did well to wait until week four before playing the trump card that is Vincent Janssen of Tottenham Hotspur. I did really well. In fact, I waited far fewer weeks to do this than Vince did to score his first goal from open play for Spurs.
Cast your mind back to last summer. Mauricio Pochettino was lamenting the fact that Tottenham had managed to come third in a two-horse race and was analysing how this could have happened. One of the possible theories was that there was too much pressure, expectation and sheer workload on Harry Kane, the talismanic number ten. What Spurs and Poch needed was a top-level back-up, someone that would be happy to sit on the bench, rotate in once in a while but score goals with the same frequency as Kane so the swap was barely noticeable. It was certainly a plan that could have been filed under “common sense”.
Pochettino and Levy found their man scoring goals for fun in the top flight in Holland, the Eredivisie. It is fair to say that they were confident that they had landed the next Robin Van Persie or Ruud Van Nistelrooy, as opposed to the next Afonso Alves or Meteja Kezman. And who could blame them for reaching that conclusion? Janssen had started his career in the second tier, scoring plenty of goals for Almere City. This earned him a move to AZ, where despite failing to score in his first eight league games, he went on to net 27 in 34 for the club – becoming the first player to score 20 goals in the second half of the season in 52 years and the youngest player to score 25 goals in Eredivisie since some Brazilian lad called Ronaldo. Pochettino, understandably, was convinced he was on to a winner.
Spurs fans agreed when they witnessed Vincent’s international debut for Holland, scoring against England and setting up the other one in a 2-1 win. Janssen ended the season winning the “Johan Cruyff Talent of the Year” award, highly prestigious indeed.
So, you would agree, none of the facts that were in front of anyone suggested that twelve months later Vincent Janssen would be featuring prominently on my list. How things change.
If you pay £17m for a striker to be your main understudy to the skipper, you’re naturally a bit disappointed when the £17m striker doesn’t score from open play until March, and when that comes in a 6-0 drubbing of Millwall you also have to accept that it might not really count. As many of you will know, Janssen got plenty of chances in the Premier League, both to play and score in fact, but he just didn’t take them. Pochettino wanted a reliable replacement of Harry Kane, and Vincent didn’t quite tick as many of the boxes as Poch first thought he might. Mind you, his few goals did mainly come from the penalty spot so he was able to replace Harry in that way I guess.
Vincent Janssen scored six goals for Spurs in his first season, and five for the Netherlands. It seemed that the freedom away from the expectation of White Hart Lane helped him remain fairly clinical for his country. Sadly for the number 9, Tottenham appear to be considering cutting their losses with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach an option.
Vincent Janssen is not a bad footballer, that is clear – but in terms of being a successful signing, I’m afraid not. In years to come, Vincent will be remembered alongside Afonso Alves, and that is not something you want on your footballing CV.