Nacer Chadli is a polarising figure at Tottenham Hotspur. Some bemoan his apparent lack of work-rate and defensive capabilities. His somewhat pretty-boy image grates with the more old-school and pragmatic of Tottenham fans. With the ever changing hairstyles and the smirk in his post-match interviews that has an edge of cockiness, Chadli doesn’t endear himself to the every-man fan like the more salt of the earth players like Harry Kane and Eric Dier do.
However despite his playboy appearance Chadli’s playstyle is in no way self-indulgent. Chadli shies away from the tricks and flicks that make wingers such as Yannick Bolasie so popular with neutrals, and instead employs an approach which relies on pragmatism and efficiency. Ignoring the tendency of a lot of wingers who want to beat their men more than once, Chadli instead looks for opportunities to affect the game, instead of trying to pad his highlight reel. He hits a channel and he crosses the ball, he finds a yard of space and he shoots. This eagerness to look for space in which to make things happen coupled with his usual excellent end product makes for a style of play that finds brilliant efficiency in simplicity.
Part of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ that joined us in 2013 after Gareth Bale left the club, Chadli understandably took a while to settle. His first season saw him score 5 goals and add 6 assists. However only one came in the league. His second season saw him improve on this tally dramatically. In 45 games Chadli contributed 13 goals and 5 assists, with 11 of these goals coming the Premier League. Averaging around a goal ever 3 games in incredibly impressive for a winger. That level of output is normally reserved for wide-men at the very elite level, and whilst Chadli cannot be considered amongst them due to the lack of completeness in his game, his ability to hit space at the right times and supply an end product means Tottenham have a valuable weapon to call upon that could be a big factor in the final 15 games of the season.
Pochettino showed he is capable of wielding this weapon as he brought on Chadli for Eric Dier against Crystal Palace. Almost immediately Chadli began occupying areas that no other Spurs player had been finding, and was rewarding with a goal and an assist that went a huge way to securing the 3 points.
This has been a stop-start season for Nacer due to injury. Despite this he has still managed to contribute 3 goals and 4 assists. Some feel that this year we have seen the side evolve again under Pochettino, into a sleeker, fitter more determined version of the team that Chadli was so affective in the previous season. And due to this it’s felt that Nacer could be left behind as the younger players grow and improve. However, in the last few games Chadli has proved that when introduced he remains one of Tottenham’s players with match winning ability. To get rid of Chadli is to affectively throw away 10-15 goals a season.
With 15 games remaining, a fully fit and fully focused Chadli could be a real difference maker for Tottenham. A ruthless edge hiding under pretty boy looks and slicked back hair, the Belgian could add the goals Spurs need for a truly special finish.Embed from Getty Images
By Josh Smith