Why Vincent Janssen Failed At Tottenham

Tottenham made a deal for the loan of Vincent Janssen to Fenerbaçhe earlier today. Janssen has only spent a year at the club, arriving from AZ Alkmaar last summer. With the arrival for Fernando Llorente just before the window closed, Janssen’s rapid fall from grace was complete.

Despite being the Netherlands’ starting striker in the last two qualifying games, the ageing Fernando Llorente seems to be Pochettino’s preferred option. Which, put mildly, seems bizarre. Why, though, did Janssen, a former Johan Cruyff ‘Talent of the Year’ trophy winner, fail at Tottenham?

The Kane Problem

The first and most important reason is Harry Kane. Only a handful of strikers could oust Kane from his starting berth at the club, and most of their names start with Karim, Luis, or Lionel. Kane, also incidentally Tottenham’s captain, was last year’s top scorer in the Premier League. He scored 29 goals last season, in 30 appearances, one of which was as a substitute. A striker with an almost 1:1 ratio of goals scored to games played is unlikely to be sat down to test out the new back-up striker. The superiority of Harry Kane in every department is absolutely the main reason that Janssen did not make it at Tottenham.

Poor Returns

Janssen only scored six goals in his year at Spurs, and four of them were penalties. Only two of his goals were in the Premier League, the rest in the EFL Cup or the FA Cup. Janssen made 36 appearances over the season, and a haul of six simply isn’t good enough.

A team needs a goal scoring option from the bench, someone who can be relied upon to grab a goal late in the game to change a result. Not always, but consistently enough that it justifies them being there behind the main striker. Chicharito and Solskjaer did that at Manchester United, Giroud does that at Arsenal now, and Sturridge has begun to do that for Liverpool.


The question then arises, why did Janssen not score enough at Tottenham? His record in the Eredivisie was infinitely better, scoring 27 in 34 for AZ. So what changed between his time at Tottenham and AZ. The obvious reason is the quality of the defence.

It is the perpetual excuse provided for players coming into the Premier League that it is difficult to adapt. While this is true, it’s not interesting. So, what changed? The fundamental difference is the style of play, and what was required of Janssen.

Janssen plays as a target man; he is a classic No.9, waiting for good service into the box, and providing good hold up play for his teammates. Spurs wasted these traits. Firstly, the club is used to Kane, who plays as a more mobile forward, dropping deep often to receive the ball, and shooting from outside the box. Janssen’s positioning was less orthodox for the club, and it seems like neither he nor the team adapted well to each other.

Janssen does not want to be playing behind Kane and Llorente. A move to Fenerbaçhe to unite with Robin van Persie seems prudent. Hopefully, he proves Tottenham wrong, coming back not only as a back-up but also as competition for Kane.

Start the discussion

to comment