The Janssen Dilemma
“He’s just got to do what he did against Everton, even though it might have only been three or four minutes at the end. He held the ball up, won free-kicks and saw the game out for us and that’s what he’s got to do every time he gets an opportunity.”
~ Harry Kane
When a young, clear-eyed Vincent Janssen decided to pack his knapsack and sail across the North Sea in search of a better life, you can’t help but feel his dreams of the Big City were more colourful than this.
Last season, his maiden campaign in top flight football, couldn’t have gone much better for Janssen. AZ Alkmaar waltzed happily into the Europa League spots and on a personal level, the Dutch striker picked up the Eredivisie Golden Boot (with 27 goals) and the Johan Cruyff Trophy for Young Player of the Year. An award whose recipients in this century include Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Christian Eriksen.
Of course, the short road to the Premier League is littered with Eredivisie stiffs; the cautionary tales of Afonso Alves and Mateja Kežman, to remind us that skills aren’t always transferable. Even so, a move to England appeared to be a logical step for the 22-year-old powerhouse.
Now, after scoring precisely zero goals from open play in a Spurs shirt, Janssen is reduced to this. Sympathy quotes from the North London club’s local hero, encouraging him to use those precious few minutes to show his worth. And what’s his worth exactly, according to Harry Kane? Getting his giant arse between himself and a defender, win a free-kick perhaps, and for heaven’s sake try not to mess anything up.
His coach’s faith appears to have drained entirely, too. In the second leg of last month’s Europa League first round knockout against Gent, Janssen was given a total of three minutes to make an impact, barely enough time to get out of breath. With the game slipping away and two goals still needed, Pochettino waited until the death the call upon his £17m man. He didn’t even make the bench in the first leg.
Thankfully, at present, Harry Kane’s composition is such that he doesn’t appear to be suffering from any form of fatigue — he must be getting used to carrying the frontline burden by now — so the Janssen situation remains just a curious subplot. One that has to be addressed in the summer.
If anything were to happen to Kane, however, and the Dutch striker remained on the peripheries or used only for those bizarre micro-cameos, you’d have to assume the decision had already been made. Pochettino might have decided the jig is up; just chalk it off as another big money transfer misstep, one of many Spurs have made in the last few windows.
Strange days, indeed.