New Tottenham boss Antonio Conte may have his next Achraf Hakimi ready to do damage | Football | Sport
Antonio Conte is officially in the door at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and immediately he will be plotting a way to turn around struggling Spurs’ fortunes. The north Londoners are only five points off the Champions League spots but have lost five of 10 Premier League matches and have scored a mere nine goals in that time.
Spurs failed to manage a single shot on target in Saturday’s miserable defeat to Manchester United, the final of Nuno Espirito Santo’s tenure, and have managed only 103 shots overall (on or off target) in the league.
That is the joint-worst tally in England’s top-flight alongside rock bottom Norwich who have scored a meagre three times and Harry Kane, last year’s top goalscorer and top assist provider, has just one goal and one assist when he had seven goals and nine assists after his first nine appearances last term.
Fixing Spurs’ toothless attack, which was last year so deadly in the first half of the season when Jose Mourinho’s side were spearheaded by the ruthless Kane and Son Heung-min, is one of Conte’s most important objectives of immediate priority.
It is widely expected the Italian, characterised as a defensive coach but who in reality is one who promotes a high press and also demands a solid structure, will switch to a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3 formation.
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Whichever system he utilises, provided it is not a back four, the wing-backs will be pivotal just as they are under Thomas Tuchel at Conte’s former club Chelsea right now.
Reece James and Ben Chilwell on current form are arguably the best full-backs in Europe. They have a combined seven goals and two assists in the league despite neither player managing more than 368 minutes of action – the equivalent of just four full matches.
At Inter, where Conte utilised a similar wing-back set-up, Achraf Hakimi was a vital part of the Serie A champions’ attack and he contributed seven goals and 10 assists alone in the title-winning campaign last term.
The Athletic state that once Hakimi left Inter to go to Paris Saint-Germain, less than a month after Conte walked away from his role as the Nerazzurri’s head coach, Emerson Royal was eyed as the Moroccan’s successor.
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The six-cap Brazil international instead joined Spurs from Barcelona on transfer deadline day for around £26m and in him, Conte will hope he has a player who can be his own Hakimi in north London.
And with Sergio Reguilon, a similar player on the left-hand side, Spurs have a pair of wide players who could play a massive part in making the team far more threatening in the final third.
James, Chilwell and even Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta have shown for Chelsea this season that wing-backs can be incredibly effective in the Premier League.
And the dynamic Royal has the raw attributes to become a Hakimi-like influence for Spurs with it said behind the scenes that his athletic abilities and fitness levels – which Conte will love – are particularly superb.
Spurs’ squad is not perfect but Conte is a world-class manager who can yield much-improved individual and team performances than his predecessor Nun Espirito Santo. There are several players whom he can get instant improvement out of and Royal is one of them. Maybe he can even be Spurs’ Hakimi.
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