When Lucas Moura burst onto the scene in 2010 with Sao Paulo many tagged him as the next Brazilian superstar.
Marcelinho, as he was then known, was fearless on the ball. Though not the largest he powered past people in a style reminiscent to that of Ronaldo.
It was Paris Saint-Germain, however, who won the battle. They shattered their transfer record to land the young star in 2012 for £38million.
Moura’s talents were never truly appreciated in the French capital, because of that he failed to live up his early hype.
He did come into his own in his final two full seasons – Moura netted 32 goals in all competitions – but it wasn’t enough to stop the Ligue 1 giants from spending a world-record fee on Neymar and signing French wonderkid Kylian Mbappé.
Moura’s playing time was limited. A move away inevitable. Spurs eventually parted with £25million to secure his services on deadline day in January 2018.
Still only 25 years old when he arrived in London, Moura’s signing was viewed as shrewd business by Spurs. It was also, however, his last chance with a big club. A lot weighed on whether the Brazilian could have an impact under Mauricio Pochettino.
The last 18 months has shown Tottenham were right to take a measured gamble on the Brazilian. He needed time to bed in, scoring just once in the latter half of the 2017/18 campaign, but the 2018/19 season saw him fully acclimatise to the rigours of England. And he delivered.
Moura kicked things off by netting a double in a 3-0 win over Manchester United. He also found the net against Liverpool in the Premier League, one of the ten goals he notched in the English top flight.
His greatest involvement, however, was in the Champions League. Moura struck against PSV and Barcelona as Spurs fought their way out of the Group of Death. Then, standing in for injured talisman Harry Kane in the last four tie against Ajax, Moura scored a second-leg hat-trick to fire Pochettino’s side into the final.
The 27-year-old rolled back the years at the Johan Cruijff ArenA – he produced a performance eerily similar to those he managed in Brazil. A combination of power, pace, flair and fleet-footedness resulted in Ajax being unable to cope with the robust No.27.
Since the move to Spurs, Moura has delivered both domestically and in Europe. He doesn’t get the attention of Kane, Heing-min Son, Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli but he’s perhaps just as important to Pochettino’s squad.
A reliable goal-threat, as evidenced by his goals per 90 across both competitions, he’s accurate with his efforts, landing 38 per cent on target in the Champions League and 44 per cent in the Premier League.
Moura often gets into the penalty area, averaging over four touches in the box per 90, and he’s a progressive dribbler, completing on average 3.84 in Europe.
He’s a goal-getter and a difference-maker. He showed that in the recent 2-2 draw with Manchester City when he came off the bench to equalise after just four seconds. It wasn’t one to add to his highlight reel but it was one to show there’s a gritty side to his game, something often overlooked.
It’s rare 5ft 6ins wide forwards glance home headers from inside the six-yard box, but Moura’s hunger was what got him there ahead of the taller Kyle Walker.
Moura has everything and the only thing that works against him is the PSG flop tag. But, sooner or later, people will realise he’s one of the best in the world at what he does. Spurs have a gem at their disposal.