The world of sport is hyper-competitive and exceptionally unforgiving. Fans will do almost anything to ensure their players are held to impossible-to-reach standards, whilst their opponents are subjected to abuse and criticism usually reserved for international war criminals.
It’s so rare to find a player who is able to unite an entire continent and be seen as dedicated, professional and undeniably talented, and yet Tottenham Hotspur seem to have unearthed such a player in Son Hueng-Min.
The South Korean star joined the North London outfit in 2015 and has already proven to haven been instrumental in Spurs’ revival into serial challengers both at home and on the continent. On top of the success on the pitch, Son has also carved out a whole new market for Daniel Levy and co. in the far East. Once dominated by the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United, Son’s almost God-like prescence has pushed the North London outfit right to the forefront of the queue.
With the South Korean forward out injured, and the detrimental effects of his absence already mounting for Spurs, we thought we would take a look back over Son’s recent numbers and work out exactly why his fan club stretches much further than White Hart Lane.
“I don’t care where I play. The main thing is I’m in the game. I can play as a second striker or behind. Whatever the coach says, I’ll do. I don’t have a favorite position. I’ll be anywhere and always on the throttle.”
In his debut season with Spurs, Son bagged four goals and one assist from 28 appearances and 1110 minutes on the pitch. Mauricio Pochettino’s second season in North London, the Lilywhites looked every part a genuine title challenger for most of the campaign, taking advantage of inconsistencies from the established top six and nestling themselves just behind Leicester City in the top four. Though they would end the year behind both the Foxes and arch-rivals Arsenal, Spurs haven’t finished outside the top four since.
It was the platform to build upon for the South Korean, who started the following season in absolutely blistering form.
Whilst it might have taken him four games to register a goal, when his first did arrive away at Stoke, it was immediately followed by another one in the game and another brace away at Middlesbrough just two weeks later.
“(Son) is a different person — he’s more mature and he knows the league and he’s settled in fantastically now.”
Son would go onto both the September and April PFA Player of the Month Awards, the only player in the league to scoop the award twice that year, and becoming the first South Korean to win the award ever. It remains his best year to date in a Spurs shirt, turning out in 47 games and scoring 21 times as Spurs finished second in the league and made it to the FA Cup semi-finals.
A Big Blow
Son’s latest game for Spurs against Aston Villa is perhaps the greatest example of the Korean as a footballer. Despite an elbow fracture in just the 31st second of the match, Son played through the pain and scored two more goals in what may well be a crucial result in Spurs’ season.
With Son and Harry Kane out of the side, Spurs look incredibly limp in front of goal. The South Korean’s 9 goals is -1.12 more than what he would have been expected to score according to Understat’s xG measurement, a ratio that is better than the likes of Dele Alli (-0.16), Lucas Moura (+1.14), Erik Lamela (-0.26) and Steven Bergwijn (-1.02).
Son is also running at -1.83 more assists than what we would expect to see, a ratio better than anyone else in the Spurs side, and is the all-round example of just how pivotal he is to the Lilywhites and their frontline this season.