What Salomon Kalou Can Bring to Tottenham's Struggling Attack

Ed Dove@EddydoveContributor IIIJanuary 17, 2014

The Daily Mirror’s John Cross reported this week that London giants Tottenham Hotspur are looking to make an offer for Lille’s Salomon Kalou in a bid to bring the Ivorian forward back to London.

Kalou was a feature in the Chelsea squad for six seasons following his arrival from Dutch side Feyenoord in 2006. While he was often a peripheral figure in the team, and resigned to a role as an impact substitute, he still managed to score 60 goals in all competitions for the London side.

He left Stamford Bridge in 2012, when his contract came to an end. Despite interest from the likes of Newcastle United, Liverpool and Arsenal, according to the Metro, he opted to move to France.

On 7 July 2012, he agreed a deal with Ligue 1 side Lille, arriving at the club only a year after they had been domestic champions.

Where Kalou was often used as a substitute at Chelsea (only 147 of his 254 appearances with the club were starts, according to Soccerbase), he has quickly become a key figure at Lille.

During his 18 months at the club he has scored 20 goals in 48 league appearances, a much more impressive goals-to-games ratio than he ever enjoyed at Chelsea.

In moving from a big club, where he was a peripheral figure, to a smaller club, where he can be a star man, Kalou has grown as an individual and as a talent.

The forward has scored goals like never before, he has been a positive influence on his team-mates and has also helped to keep the club stable following their title victory.

That successful team were gradually torn apart as the likes of Eden Hazard, Gervinho, Aurelien Chedjou, Mathieu Debuchy, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sow and Adil Rami departed one-by-one. The consistent performances of Kalou and his star qualities have ensured that the Dogues have not floundered following these departures.

At the end of the 2012-13 season his form was simply irresistible; he shone in contests against Reims and Nantes and looked outstanding as he dissected the opposition with a clinical precision.

His magnificent showings have shown no sign of abating this term; Kalou has delivered man of the match performances against the likes of Bastia, Nantes and, crucially, champions PSG.

Lille currently sit in third place and would open up considerable distance between themselves and fourth-placed Saint-Etienne should they beat ASSE in the Loire tonight.

But will Kalou be present for the run-in?

Over the summer he was linked with a return to the Premier League, and in recent days strong indications have surfaced to suggest that Tottenham Hotspur are looking to bring the Ivorian back to London.

In early January, James Dickinson of the Express revealed that Spurs, as well as Liverpool and Arsenal, were preparing a bid for the player. Dickinson noted that, despite turning down summer approaches from West Ham and West Bromwich Albion, the player was keen on a move back to England.

Since then, Spurs have emerged as the front-runners to secure his services.

Despite Lille’s apparent resistance to the move (according to Cross), the Daily Mail have revealed that Kalou is in London today for talks. Simon Jones indicated that the forward has been named by Spurs boss Tim Sherwood as a player who could make a big difference to the Lilywhites’ forward line.

Tottenham’s struggles in front of goal have been well-documented so far this season.

Roberto Soldado has wholly failed to deliver on his £26 million transfer fee since arriving from Valencia in the summer. The Spanish international has shown cool composure from the penalty spot, but he has made minimal contribution in open play.

The forward has admitted to the Daily Mail that he and his wife have struggled to adapt to life in England, and in London, and that his opening months at White Hart Lane had been tough.

Jermain Defoe remains a fine poacher, but he has agreed a deal to move to Toronto FC in the MLS and will not see out the season in north London.

Emmanuel Adebayor has been the team’s most-impressive forward in recent weeks, but he remains an unpredictable force and few Spurs fans would be keen to rely upon his capricious abilities as they seek Champions League qualification.

Over the last six months, the club’s myriad of midfield options have also failed to weigh-in with enough goals. Christian Eriksen has three in ten starts and Gylfi Sigurdsson has three in nine, but Paulinho, Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend, Lewis Holtby, Mousa Dembele and Sandro have only seven between them.

The less said about Erik Lamela, the £30 million signing from AS Roma, the better.

At the time of writing, Spurs have scored 26 goals in 21 games. Only Hull City, of the teams in the top ten, have scored fewer.

Contrary to Tom Sunderland’s recent feature on Bleacher Report attempting to dissuade Brendan Rodgers from bringing Kalou to Liverpool, I believe the forward is not a player “in decline” and that he could be a major asset to Spurs.

The Ivorian brings various qualities that would combat deficiencies in the current Tottenham set-up.

The likes of Eriksen, Lamela, Townsend and Holtby make Tottenham’s squad fairly light on experience. There are few players in the squad who can boast Kalou’s experience of winning and not many who can claim to have worked under managers of the same calibre as those who have coached Kalou.

The Ivorian has won both the Premier League and the Champions League, not to mention four FA Cups. He has represented the Cote d’Ivoire at six major tournaments, including a World Cup, and has also featured in the semi-finals and the final of the Cup of Nations.

At the time of writing, he has already amassed 63 caps for the Elephants.

At a proposed cost of around £3 million, this experience could prove to be invaluable.

Sherwood would, however, not be buying a washed-out old veteran. Kalou is only 28 and still has several years of good football ahead of him. He could bring a winning mentality and could have a big influence on some of the squad’s younger stars.

His versatility could also be valuable for Sherwood. Kalou is a forward, but he is adept at playing in a number of positions. He has the pace to lead the line, for the national side he typically operates in a wide role as part of a front three, while he can also play as a second striker, off a leading front man.

Sherwood has been playing a nominal 4-4-2 since taking the hot seat at White Hart Lane. In this formation, Kalou could play as a second forward, off the taller Emmanuel Adebayor perhaps, and he could also do a job on either flank.

As the season wears on however, Sherwood will surely need to diversify his attacking approach. In these instances, Kalou, with his versatility, could prove to be a useful asset.

Crucially, Kalou brings goals.

Even if, hypothetically, he returned to England as a “super sub”, he could be a major asset to Tottenham in this capacity. On numerous occasions, Kalou’s desire to run with the ball, to run at defences and to test them with his nimble footwork made the difference for Jose Mourinho’s side.

Under Harry Redknapp, Tottenham were outdone by a Kalou winner in April 2011, while he also scored a late equaliser against Everton in an FA Cup match in January of that year.

Following Defoe’s move to Canada, Spurs are desperately in need of a game-changer, a figure who can enter games and shape them. Even if Kalou’s merits cannot win him a spot in the starting line-up, he could still play a huge part in the season’s close as an impact player.


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