Tottenham Focus - Nacer Chadli: Red Devil to Lilywhite
Tottenham added to their contingent of Belgians in July with the signing of Nacer Chadli from FC Twente for a fee of £7m. Spurs were apparently taking a small gamble on a player who had suffered with injuries the previous season. However, his form for The Tukkers would suggest this is a gamble worth taking.
Chadli came to prominence in 2009 when he stole the show in a cup match for AGOVV Apeldoorn against Ajax; the following summer several Eredivisie clubs showed interest but it was Twente captured his signature.
In his first season with the reigning Dutch champions, Chadli formed part of an exciting attacking line-up alongside Luuk de Jong, Bryan Ruiz and Marc Janko. Twente would go onto lift the KNVB Cup whilst unluckily missing the league title on the last day of the season. Whilst the next two seasons were hampered by injuries, Chadli still had a reasonable return of 25 goals in 84 appearances for Twente. Perhaps his importance to the team is highlighted by the fact they won 65% of the games he appeared in compared to 25% without him.
Chadli is not blessed with the same turn of pace seen with the departed Gareth Bale or Aaron Lennon, but the Belgian/Moroccan has a high technical ability, vision and power, abilities that can arguably be attributed to learning his football in the streets - Chadli grew up in the same area of Liege as Christian Benteke and Axel Witsel, all three of whom represented Belgium against Scotland on Friday.
Chadli is rated highly by his Belgium national coach Marc Wilmots, who said: “I really like the player Nacer Chadli. I can use him as a winger or as a central attacking midfielder. He also has the right mentality. Chadli is a player that I will always pick when he is fit." High praise indeed, considering the number of options available to Wilmots with Belgium’s latest golden generation.
Chadli’s abilities and versatility may have been behind André Villas-Boas’ chase for his signature. The Portuguese appears to like players who can play in a variety of positions, giving him plenty of options on the field tactically, as well as the capability to rotate when needed.
The 24-year-old has made a decent start to his Spurs career and whilst Andros Townsend has to some extent grabbed the limelight, Chadli has arguably more of an all-round game, and has quietly being going around his business, starting and completing 90 minutes in all three league games. As one of the attacking four players he has probably contributed most defensively, but in his attacking roles he has had eight shots, four successful dribbles and created most chances for the team, nine key passes, with a pass accuracy of 86%.
With four wide players for two places, Chadli will face healthy competition for a start. However in this World Cup year, his ability and mentality could see him prosper at and for Spurs. The Lilywhites may just have reason to like this Red Devil.
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