Supercomputer names best player to replace Harry Kane at Tottenham and predicts four other alternative strikers
REPLACING Harry Kane is a difficult thing to do for Tottenham.
Not only was he a homegrown star, he was their best goalscorer and most creative player after developing his game to become a complete forward.
So what do Spurs need in a replacement? An out-and-out goalscorer or a more mobile attacking player?
The truth is probably something in between.
But using xGOLD – a custom-built tool from Total Football Analysis that helps clubs find interesting players in the market – we can look at five players who could replace Kane’s attacking output.
So, which five players does xGOLD predict would be the best replacements for Kane?
5. Ibrahim Salah – 80% xGOLD match
The fifth player on our list is 20-year-old Moroccan forward Ibrahim Salah – a product of the prolific youth academy at Gent in Belgium.
Salah – who signed for Rennes for £6.5million in January – is a versatile attacking player who is capable of playing in the wide areas or centrally as a 9 or a 10.
He has already caught the eye this season with two goals on the opening weekend of Ligue 1 as Rennes comfortably beat Metz 5-1.
Salah is very strong in finding pockets of space in the final third in which he can receive the ball before turning to run in possession or find line-breaking passes to play teammates in behind the defence.
He is a powerful ball carrier with the ability to drive with the ball in space.
In the above example he has picked up possession of the ball deep in his own half before driving forward and moving his team across the half-way line as they counterattack effectively.
For all that he is physical in the way that he moves and carries the ball his game intelligence and understanding shine through in terms of understanding when to drive and when to look to cut back into pockets of space to link play.
This is perhaps where he is most similar to Kane in his ability to occupy space between the lines in order to help the midfield and attack link together.
One area of Salah’s game that is rapidly improving is his attacking instincts in terms of position and movement in the final third.
Obviously, he is much younger than Kane although there are similarities to the way that Salah identifies and uses space to the way that Kane used to when he was beginning to establish himself in the Spurs first-team.
We see an example of this above as Salah is initially positioned outside the area and as the cross, and shot, come in he is the first to react when the goalkeeper pushes the ball out into the area.
4. Santiago Castro – 82% xGOLD match
With Spurs having already accessed the Argentinean market once this summer with Alejo Veliz, the next player on our list of similar forwards is also an Argentine – 18-year-old Santiago Castro.
Castro is an U20 international with four goals in seven appearances who plays Velez Sarsfield at club level.
While Salah is more of a versatile forward who can play wide or through the centre of the pitch, Castro is more comfortable playing in central areas.
He is a centre-forward similar to Kane in that he is comfortable dropping deeper to get on the ball in the attacking phase or when playing on the shoulder of the defender and looking to make runs in behind.
We see an example of the type of movement that Castro shows here. As Velez are building their attack out on the near side the ball is initially set back to a deeper player.
Instead of looking to find a small pocket of space in a crowded penalty area, we see Castro drop out of the area to receive a pass.
When getting on the ball in this area, in the same way that Kane would have previously, Castro will be aggressive in looking to make an angle to shoot at goal.
While Kane was dangerous in deeper areas he was also, of course, extremely dangerous when making space for a shot at goal in the penalty area.
Castro has this aspect to his game already.
This time we see the ball on the opposite side of the pitch and as the cross comes in Castro has made a double movement to gain an advantage on his marker and as the cross has been made Castro ends up with an acrobatic attempt at goal.
3. Amine Salama – 83% xGOLD match
The third closest match to Kane according to xGOLD is 23-year-old French forward Amine Salama of Stade Reims.
Salama has actually already moved clubs this summer having completed a move for a fee in the region of £4m from Angers to Stade Reims in Ligue 1.
He is an interesting player given his size and technical ability. Salama stands at around 6’4” and while he is strong aerially he is very good with the ball at his feet.
In some ways he is extremely similar in terms of playing style to Kane with the ability to drop in and connect play in deeper areas while also having the movement and touch to be extremely dangerous in and around the penalty area.
Salama is very dangerous when dropping into these deeper pockets to receive the ball.
Here, we see Salama in possession of the ball in a deeper position off the front line.
His movement and game intelligence are really impressive and as such he is good at getting into space between the lines of the opposition defensive block to receive the ball.
He will then typically turn to either drive at the opposition defence in possession or, as is the case here, he will look for a chance to play a through ball to release another forward.
Salama is similar to Kane in that he possesses excellent timing and vision when combining to release teammates into dangerous areas.
In this example, he is driving forward in possession of the ball and as he attracts opposition defenders towards the ball he creates space for his teammate on the near side.
Salama times the release of the ball right to play his teammate through and in for an opportunity on goal showing selfless attacking play.
2. Julio Enciso – 84% xGOLD match
We all know that Brighton recruit very well and it is perhaps the obvious move to pick up the clubs latest impressive talent.
And while there are many Spurs fans who would support a move for Japanese winger Karou Mitoma, it is actually Paraguayan Julio Enciso xGOLD believe to be a good replacement for Kane.
Enciso, 18, is perhaps more of a second striker than Kane.
But while Kane will start on the highest line and then drop deeper to link play Enciso will start deeper before moving higher.
This means that the young Paraguayan actually performs a lot of the same actions on the pitch as Kane.
Enciso is very strong from a technical perspective and his movement is typically very intelligent as he understands how to drop away from markers to receive the ball in pockets of space.
We see that in the above example where Enciso has dropped away from the area to receive the ball between the lines of the Chelsea defensive structure.
As soon as he does so he turns and unleashes a superb strike at goal, outlining his ability to perform the spectacular.
This is the lead up to another stunning strike from Enciso last season.
Once again we see the teenager receive the ball in the kind of positions that we saw Kane take up last season.
As Enciso receives the ball, again in space between the opposition defence, he immediately turns and drives towards the opposition goal before unleashing a powerful shot into the top corner.
1. Gift Orban – 86% xGOLD match
The top match to Kane, which will probably please many Spurs fans, according to xGOLD is the 21-year-old Nigerian forward Gift Orban who currently plays in the Belgian top-flight with Gent.
Gent only signed Orban in January of this year with a £3.3m deal being enough to take the Nigerian forward from the Norwegian second tier.
Since then, Orban has exploded with 20 goals in 22 games in all competitions across the second half of the 2022/23 season.
This season he has shown little interest in slowing down and he has started this term with five goals in five games.
There is little doubt that of all of the players xGOLD has given us Orban is the most gifted natural goalscorer.
Orban is a natural striker with the ability to score typical striker’s goals in and around the penalty area or to collect possession deeper before striking at goal from range.
In the above example, we see Orban receive the ball deep inside the opposition half.
He then cuts inside before striking with power from range past the opposition goalkeeper.
This time we see an example of Orban’s movement in the penalty area as he loses a marker and makes space to receive a cross to strike at goal.
With the ball on the near side, Orban makes a clever double movement as he immediately moves towards the front post, making his marker follow him, before stopping the run and drifting backwards and into space.
As the cross comes into the area Orban then has the space to finish with composure.
What does this mean?
xGOLD is clear that Orban of Gent is the closest match to Kane that Spurs can access in this window.
Further video scouting sanity checked the fact that Orban is indeed a very, very interesting option for Tottenham.
The career progression of the Nigerian has been incredible to date and he has taken each next step comfortably in his stride, having scored goals everywhere he has been.
But Spurs surely need to move quickly if they want to get a clear run at the signing, with interest in his services high.
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