It’s difficult not to sympathise with Gylfi Sigurdsson. Brought from Hoffenheim over the summer, the midfielder hasn’t made the impact at Tottenham Hotspur that he many had hoped. Seven goals in 18 appearances during his loan spell with Swansea City last season saw the Iceland international’s stock rise significantly.
As such, Sigurdsson was linked with a move to Manchester United at one point over the summer, with some believing he could be the long-term successor to Paul Scholes at Old Trafford. However, it was the Swans that initially, unsurprisingly, firmed up their interest in the 23-year-old, agreeing a club record fee for the goalscoring midfielder that would see his loan switch made permanent.
Regardless of the fee being agreed, no deal was ever going to be completed once Brendan Rodgers left for Liverpool. The Northern Irishman is a self proclaimed fan of Sigurdsson, having worked with him in the past during his short stint as Reading manager and was responsible for bringing him to the Liberty Stadium back in January.
The Reds had appeared dead certs to secure his signature, before Spurs showed an interest. As such, Sigurdsson completed his move to White Hart Lane on the 4th of July, becoming the first signing of recently appointed head-coach Andre Villas-Boas.
Sigurdsson was linked with a move to Manchester United at one point over the summer, with some believing he could be the long-term successor to Paul Scholes
Fans were excited about his arrival. While Rafael van der Vaart had provided goals from midfield, 28 of them to be exact, his chewing gum hamstrings often saw him sidelined for extended periods of time, while Spurs lacked that treat from the middle of the park.
When the Dutchman was, somewhat surprisingly, sold on deadline day, many expected Sigurdsson to undertake the mantle that had been bestowed upon him. However, the midfielder has failed to replicate the form he showed during his early Reading days and his stint at Swansea last season, netting just once during the 3-0 Capital One Cup win over Carlisle United in seven appearances.
His position in the team, due to the system Villas-Boas implements, was all but guaranteed until late on deadline day and the arrival of Clint Dempsey. Like Sigurdsson, the American had been destined to sign for Liverpool, but after the Merseysiders and Fulham failed to agree a fee, presumably after spending the extra £2m compiling a dossier of a fictional Twitter persona, the midfielder signed on at White Hart Lane.
Regardless of his age, Dempsey’s stats don’t lie, having 26 goals between 2010 and 2012, just two goals shy of Van der Vaart’s record in the same period. He may have only netted once following his arrival on August 31st, the winner in Spurs’ 3-2 win over Manchester United last month, but he has already appears a better suit for the system under Villas-Boas than Sigurdsson.
the American had been destined to sign for Liverpool, but after the Merseysiders and Fulham failed to agree a fee
While his Icelandic teammate is better suited to receive the ball at his feet, and remain in a central position, Dempsey is more than capable of winning the aerial duel, while often drifting out to the right or left flank to aid in the build-up play.
His versatility has often seen him favoured of Sigurdsson, and the team regularly benefits from his experience and attacking nous. However, it would be unfair to rule the Icelander out of first-team duties just yet.
His time at Swansea was often utilised behind the front-man, at the time Danny Graham. Playing with a target man, per se, brought out the best in Sigurdsson, with the space the former Watford star freed up around the 18-yard box fully utilised by the 23-year-old.
His change in fortunes could coincide with Emmanuel Adebayor returning to the starting XI. As such, the Togo international has found it difficult to break into the first-team due to the form of Jermain Defoe, who has four goals this season, and a problematic hamstring injury.
However, it would be unfair to rule the Icelander out of first-team duties just yet
However, his return to the first-team fold could see the best brought out in Sigurdsson, with Adebayor often drifting to the flanks to pick up the ball, which, like Graham, would free up space to be exploited by the man behind the striker.
This could see the best brought out in Sigurdsson, especially against teams that are proving more difficult to break down at White Hart Lane. However, with Defoe seemingly the preferred choice of Villas-Boas, it is likely to see Dempsey continue in the role behind the front-man.
It isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the 35-year-old, who will welcome the competition for starting spots. Yet, it relates back to the age old adage – ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’. Unfortunately, this means Sigurdsson will likely retain is place on the bench, for the coming weeks at least and it's hardly surprising considering the impact Dempsey has made since his arrival at Spurs.
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