Just 24 hours into the Andre Villas-Boas regime and Spurs were already making waves with Wednesday’s announcement of the capture of Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim. The 22-year-old arrives at the Lane in a five-year deal which costs the club £6.8m and represents something of a coup, with the Icelandic star initially expected to follow former boss Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool this summer:
Sigurdsson’s acquisition is regarded as the first step in a restructuring program under Villas-Boas as Spurs look to target younger and more dynamic players with the ability to cope with the new manager’s demanding high-pressing game. The former Swansea loan star admitted that playing under Villas-Boas next season was one of the major factors in his decision to reject the advances of Liverpool and move to the north London outfit instead.
I like him and the ideas he has. He has faith in me and I’m looking forward to working under his leadership. The team has world-class players in their ranks and they play good football, which I like. I was impressed with the club’s plans for next season and the coming years. There is clearly great ambition at Tottenham and the club intends to do big things.
As a youngster, Sigurdsson spent time on trial at Arsenal and Preston before signing a youth contract at Reading in October 2005. Prior to the 2007-08 season he was handed a professional contract but failed to establish himself at the Royals, with loan spells at Shrewsbury and Crewe earning the midfielder his first taste of league action.
The arrival of Brendan Rodgers to the Madejski in August 2009 finally allowed Sigurdsson to flourish as a key component of the Reading first XI. His one and only full season at the Royals harvested 17 goals and nine assists and, after producing two goals and an assist in four games at the start of the following campaign, Sigurdsson was snapped up by German club Hoffenheim prior to the closure of the August transfer window.
His time at the Bundesliga outfit was a little hit and miss, however. While he made 29 appearances in the 2010/11 season, 16 of those came from the bench – with 9 goals and 3 assists, though, Sigurdsson was voted the fans’ Player of the Season. Last season harvested just seven appearances before Rodgers rescued him once again, bringing the Icelandic star to Swansea in January. With seven goals and three assists in 18 league games, he lit up the Premier League and afforded Fantasy managers a superb cut-price option across the games, with a 5.0 price tag in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) eventually rising to 5.6 by the end of the campaign.
Turning down the chance to reunite with Rodgers could well be a risky move, given the effect the Irishman has had on Sigurdsson’s career. Clearly, his move to Spurs isn’t one of blind faith, however – assurances are likely to have been given over his role in “the hole” behind a lone front man as Villas-Boas goes about reshaping the north London outfit. Levy and Villas-Boas have already spoken of their “shared vision” and the highly sought-after playmaker is unlikely to find himself stranded on the flank – a scenario Rafael Van der Vaart suffered from time to time during the Redknapp era, much to Fantasy managers’ frustration.
Sigurdsson’s price across the Fantasy games will be key to how we assess his prospects. Gareth Bale’s cost is set to escalate after last season’s exploits, with the Welshman likely to join Van der Vaart around the 10.0 bracket. From an FPL perspective, Sigurdsson could well come in around the 8.0 – 9.0 mark and present us with a relatively cheap alternative route into Tottenham’s midfield, though the potential downside is he may not be handed free reign on set-piece duties this time round – a factor that would dent his appeal.
Much may also depend on the transfer dealings between now and the end of August. If Spurs can make the necessary changes required to implement Villas-Boas’ philosophy, the new manager’s time at Porto suggests they could well be a force to be reckoned with. Elsewhere in the midfield, Luka Modric may be moved on to generate cash, while Van der Vaart could also head out the exit door. While there is no doubting the latter’s class, the Dutchman is hardly known for the dynamism required to nail down a role in the new manager’s starting XI – such a scenario may well boost Sigurdsson’s appeal.
With a half-season of Premier League experience behind him, a bedding-in period isn’t required; there’s no reason why Sigurdsson won’t hit the ground running and one look at Spurs’ opening set of fixtures holds plenty promise. Although trips to Newcastle and Man United in Gameweek 1 and 6 respectively are far from straightforward, a run of games between Gameweeks 2-5 (WBA, NOR, rdg, QPR) suggests Villas-Boas’ side will be set for heavy investment and, with Sigurdsson at the creative hub of their attacking ploys, a strong start to the Fantasy season could well be on the cards for a player who averaged 5.7 points per game last time round, more than any midfielder in the league.
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby