Mauricio Pochettino made clear Friday that Vincent Janssen will be expected to help cover for recently injured Harry Kane over the next few weeks.
Though Janssen came to Tottenham as a backup option to Kane, his lackluster performances so far in his first season continue to leave him as Pochettino’s second choice.
The man who will cover for Kane, at least in tomorrow’s match against Southampton, is likely Heung-min Son. Though a winger by trade, the South Korean performed well at striker previously this season.
In choosing Son, Pochettino immediately dug up speculation that Janssen’s time at the club might be short lived. Though prolific with AZ Alkmaar last season, the rigors of English football appear too much for the Dutchman. His struggles have left him outside Pochettino’s thoughts for months now, and thus he rarely earns minutes, much less full starts.
Even when Kane suffered injury against Millwall last week, Pochettino declined to call Janssen onto the pitch immediately. Son would move to striker and go on to score a hat-trick.
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When Janssen was brought on though, he performed — including netting his first ever goal from open play at Tottenham.
That performance mixed with a bit of desperate times perhaps compelled Pochettino to revisit the 21-year-old and his chances in the starting XI.
As quoted by the Guardian, Pochettino appears ready to keep an open mind about Janssen, and indeed admits that a second chance is perhaps overdue.
"He needed a wake-up to be reminded that the possibility of playing could arrive. He is very young. He came from Holland. I’m happy with him and all the players but I understand they are not happy with some situations."
Janssen’s reaction to his goal against Millwall made that latter sentiment fairly clear. Far from overflowing with relief, the Dutchman appeared surprisingly solemn even as his teammates celebrated around him.
That’s the essential paradox of Janssen’s first season. The club thought highly of him, or at least enough to pay £17 million for his services. When he didn’t immediately adapt to a new country, a new league and a new team, Pochettino seemed all too willing to give up on him.
With just over 1,100 minutes in all competitions this season and only five Premier League starts, it is about time that Tottenham give him more responsibility. We have seen far too little of him to call his 27 goals in the Eredivisie last season a fluke.