Transfers

Spurs target Olsen has potential to be world class with Pochettino guidance

 • by Sam McGuire
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Signings are like London buses, as Tottenham Hotspur look set to discover.  You wait ages, then several arrive at once.

The Champions League finalists last signed a player on deadline day of January 2018 when they parted with close to £25million to sign Lucas Moura from Paris Saint-Germain.

Since then, two transfer windows have been and gone, they’ve moved into a new stadium and played in a European Cup final. With a little over five weeks of the window remaining, Spurs don’t have long to add reinforcements to their squad.

They’ve been linked with a host of names but Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Andreas Skov Olsen of FC Nordsjælland look set to be the first across the line.

Mauricio Pochettino is in need of a left-footed forward. He may have been priced out of a move for Roma sensation Nicolò Zaniolo but Olsen could potentially be one of the bargains of the summer.

The 19-year-old attacker has just 12 months remaining on his deal and recent reports claim the Danish Superliga side could cash in this summer, with a fee in the region of £15million mooted.

On paper, it isn’t the sort of signing to announce Spurs are back in the game. But Pochettino teams are often greater than the sum of their parts. Olsen isn’t a transformative signing right now. But he immediately fills a void for Spurs and, in a couple of years, he could be a special talent.

Last season he netted 22 goals and assisted five in the Superliga in 3,055 minutes while operating as a wide forward on the right.

Though primarily left-footed, he isn’t like Arjen Robben in the sense he’s always looking to cut onto his favoured foot. He’s just as composed on his weaker side and regularly opts to finish with his right foot to give him an unpredictable edge.

Despite his youth, Olsen has a calm head on his shoulders. He takes penalties, free-kicks and steps up to deliver for FC Nordsjælland in big moments. His winning goal against Hobro in February epitomised him as a player.

Picking the ball up on the right, Olsen cut inside and passed to a team-mate. He continued his run into a central area and positioned himself on the edge of the area before being found with a pass.

His first touch freed him of any opponents but appeared to take him a little wide on his weaker right foot. Undeterred, he nonchalantly dinked the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper into the corner of the goal.

Think Mohamed Salah against Manchester City in the Champions League during the 2017/18 season but on the opposite side. If one goal could showcase how classy and lethal he is, it’d be that one.  

There’s a bit of Marko Arnautović about Olsen; he’s a 6ft 2ins wide player destined to eventually lead the line. He somehow manages to combine explosive acceleration and the tricky feet usually associated with smaller wide forwards with the clinical finishing you might expect from a poacher.  

Skov Olsen Tottenham target

The scary thing about Olsen is how sustainable his output is. Last season, he averaged 0.63 goals per 90 with an expected goals average of 0.41. He slightly overperformed, yes, but even if he reverted to the average it’s still an impressive return for a wide forward.

His 3.35 shots per 90 suggest he’s a volume player but to average that many is remarkable. Ensuring you get so many goalscoring opportunities, which they are given his high expected goals average, is an art form – and not one many master in their teenage years.

Olsen chips in with assists too (0.16 per 90) but perhaps the biggest plus from his stats is his touches in the opposition box. He’s averaging close to six per 90, showing he’s comfortable with the ball in these areas.

If he’s already used to seeing a fair amount of the ball in these positions then it’ll be easier for him to adapt. The struggle is when players move from inferior teams and, all of a sudden, see more of the ball in key areas. If they aren’t used to it, moves break down and opportunities are wasted.

For £15million it’s an absolute no-brainer to add him to the ranks. With the right guidance, he’s potentially a world-class forward in a couple of years.

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