During the summer, the discourse around Tottenham centred on the future of Harry Kane. However, the England captain remaining in North London may not have been the best piece of business conducted by Daniel Levy. It went slightly under the radar, but Son Heung-min agreed a new contract with the club. Like Kane, he was entering into the final years of his contract. At the age of 29, it may have been the final opportunity for the South Korean to move to a bigger club. Instead, he opted to commit his long term future with Spurs.
As he has been operating in the shadow of Harry Kane, Son’s development during the last few years hasn’t received the coverage that it should have. He is now one of the leading players in the division and consistently performing at a very high standard. During the last two seasons, Son has contributed 28 goals and 20 assists in the Premier League. On both occasions, he reached ten for both goals and assists, showing the dual threat that he carries.
In addition to his excellent end product, Son has been a near ever present during the last 12 months. Last season, he started 36 matches in the Premier League and failed to feature in just one game. Availability is crucial, especially when it can be paired with consistently world class performances.
Nuno Espirito Santo took charge of Tottenham during the summer. Although his first priority would have been to keep Kane, he will quickly be realising that Son could be an even more important player for his team. Kane has failed to register a goal or assist in the league this season. Meanwhile, his South Korean team-mate has scored three times and got one assist. It was his presence and quality that led to the Matt Targett own goal at the weekend. Although he won’t be credited with the assist, it was another example of his influence for Spurs.
This season, he has been even more important for Tottenham than Kane. Aside from his goal contributions, he is averaging 3.2 shots and 1.5 key passes per game. This is superior to last season’s top scorer, who is averaging 2.5 shots and 0.8 key passes per game.
There has been a steady growth in Kane’s recent performances. Nuno will be hoping that his striker can get back to his best form, despite his desire to leave the club. However, Son’s performances and influence are also increasing. This season could be the first where the South Korean emerges as the talisman of the team, taking the place of Kane.
It is likely that Kane will leave the club in the next 18 months. Therefore, this campaign may be a symbolic changing of the guard in North London. It would have been feared that both players would leave the club after their failure to qualify for this season’s Champions League. Both have stayed for now, but Kane is trying to leave the club and that desire is unlikely to go away.
There will be no fears about Son’s future. He has committed himself to leading the rebuild at Tottenham and his performances get better every week. This is now his team, regardless of whether Kane is at the club or not.
Stats taken from Whoscored