In Focus: Dan the man to help boost Conte's attacking options
Tottenham have strengthened their squad with the surprise signing of Arnaut Danjuma on loan from Villarreal.
The Dutch international had looked to be on the verge of moving to Everton on Monday, where he had undergone a medical, completed some media duties and even signed a contract.
All that needed to be done to rubber stamp the loan deal was for the Nigeria-born winger to send a registration form to the FA.
The late interest from Spurs came on Tuesday night and resulted in the LaLiga ace rejecting the Merseysiders.
Ahead of Tottenham’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Preston on Saturday, we take a look at what Danjuma can bring to the North Londoners.
On the face of it, Everton seem to be much more in need of Danjuma’s talents than Tottenham.
The Toffees are 19th in the Premier League and their tally of 15 goals this season is the second lowest in the division. Danjuma would have surely walked straight into their team.
Everton are reported to be unhappy with the forward’s late decision to instead join Spurs, but they were guilty of shifting the goalposts themselves.
When Danjuma completed his medical on Saturday, Frank Lampard was the manager that he expected to play under. On Monday, Goodison Park chiefs sacked the former Chelsea boss.
Despite not yet having appointed a successor, the Merseysiders somehow expected to sign a player who had no assurances that the new manager would even want him.
Return to England
Rather than a relegation battle, Danjuma joins a side competing for a top-four finish and that are still involved in the Champions League and FA Cup.
It is his second spell in England, having signed for Bournemouth from Club Brugge in 2019. In an injury hit first season, he was unable to prevent the Cherries from being relegated from the Premier League.
He scored 15 goals in 33 games for the South Coast outfit in the Championship, as Jonathan Woodgate's side made the play-offs. This form saw the Netherlands international make a move to Villarreal.
Danjuma notched 22 goals in 51 games for the Yellow Submarine, which included six in the Champions League, as Unai Emery’s team made the semi-finals last season.
With Emery having been replaced by Quique Setien, the 25-year-old has found himself on the bench in recent games, alerting clubs in England to his potential availability.
Though Danjuma has swerved a fight against relegation, he now faces a tussle to make the Tottenham first team.
The competition is fierce for a player that is predominantly a left-winger. Heung-Min Son currently occupies that position and though the South Korean has been in poor form this season, Antonio Conte has remained loyal to him.
Spurs already have high quality backup to Son in the form of Richarlison, who can also deputise for Harry Kane and on occasion has played on the right.
It is on the right that Tottenham most looked in need of reinforcement. There is no natural alternative to Dejan Kulusevski in the squad, with both Richarlison and Bryan Gil happier on the left and Lucas Moura set to leave the club.
Spurs had been linked with Nicolo Zaniolo, but have not persuaded Roma to release the 23-year-old Italian on loan. It would seem that they have signed Danjuma as an alternative, boosting their overall forward depth, if not the specific position they wanted.
Option to buy
The good news for Danjuma is that though this looks like an opportunistic deal, Tottenham’s interest is reported to go back to last summer.
It is claimed that they mooted a swap deal for the player, with Giovani Lo Celso moving the other way. Villarreal have also revealed that the loan move includes an option to buy at the end of the season.
Another positive is the fact that Son cannot remain in the team unless his performances improve. Gil looks set to go out on loan and with Kane’s future up in the air, Spurs could easily have a new-look forward line before long.
In the short term, Danjuma’s opportunities are likely to come from the bench. His pace, dribbling ability and finishing, give him every chance to make an impact against tiring defences.
For now, this signing looks a smart way for Tottenham to increase the attacking options available to Conte. Yet if he can make the most of his chance, Danjuma’s stay in North London could be a lengthy one.