Tottenham don’t need to replace Kane with Richarlison in this form


The £100m collected by Tottenham Hotspur from Bayern Munich for Harry Kane still hasn’t been spent – at least not on a direct replacement for the centre forward. Spurs have invested in other areas of their squad under new manager Ange Postecoglou, but they have so far refrained from entering the market for a new goalscoring number nine.

With Richarlison in his current form, there’s been no need to. The Brazilian has found the back of the net nine times in his last 10 outings for Tottenham in all competitions with his brace against Everton on Saturday the latest sign of a player who is growing in confidence. Indeed, Richarlison has become a difference-maker under Postecoglou.

It wasn’t so long ago that the 26-year-old was widely viewed as a figure of derision in North London. He scored just one goal in 37 Premier League appearances last season and was commonly written off as an expensive flop having cost Tottenham £50m (plus £10m in add-ons) from Everton.

Now, though, Richarlison is an important member of a team on an upward trajectory. He has given Tottenham cutting edge in the attacking third and has stepped up not only following the sale of Kane to Bayern Munich, but in the absence of Son Heung-min who is currently on international duty at the Asian Cup.

Tottenham need Richarlison to remain sharp in front of goal if they are to finish an encouraging season strongly. Saturday’s draw against Everton at Goodison Park pushed them out of the top four, but there’s still good reason to believe Spurs will be back in the Champions League for the start of next season.

“The way we play and the kind of player Richy is, I was always confident he would score goals but we need more than that,” said Postecoglou about Richarlison. “I think his work rate now defensively, which was really important when we had Sonny up there hasn’t dropped off with Richy there. He’s working really hard for the team and the Ks (kilometres) he did the other night was right up there. Then his link up and hold up play is improving all the time. See I love that.”

Postecoglou is right to highlight Richarlison’s all-round game. He might not have the passing range of Kane, but he is a willing presser from the front. The Brazilian is also mobile with the runs he makes in behind the opposition defence and is strong in the air, which is useful when attacking set-pieces. There’s more to Richarlison’s game than he is often given credit for.

This summer will present Tottenham Hotspur with another opportunity to strengthen and mould the squad around Postecoglou whose ideas and methods have quickly taken root at the club. The Australian has gained a great degree of influence over Spurs’ transfer strategy since his appointment last summer and must use that wisely.

It could be argued that Tottenham still require a direct replacement for Kane, and if an elite-level centre forward becomes available the club might be tempted to make a move. Victor Osimhen, for example, would fit the bill as a new number nine who could elevate the level of Postecoglou’s team as a whole.

Realistically, though, Spurs will struggle to land a new centre forward on the same level as Kane. Son has already demonstrated his ability to lead the line earlier in the season, registering 12 goals and five assists in just 20 Premier League appearances, and now Richarlison is proving he too can be the frontman Postecoglou needs in the long-term.

Author: Mark Hayes