The January signing of Lewis Holtby excited Tottenham fans. The ex-Schalke player was Germany’s under-21 captain, had three caps for the senior team, and looked to be a younger, quicker, more agile replacement for the much missed Rafael van der Vaart.
But since his move the German star has found himself consigned to the bench, and there is no acceptable reason why. Andre Villas-Boas was very excited at the £1.5 million winter window signing, stating: "We rate the player very highly.
"We managed to get him at a good price and it was always a question of how much Schalke would want for the player.
"I think there was willingness from the player to come early so we have decided to add him to the squad — he is an extremely talented attacking midfielder who can play in a variety of roles.
"He is used to playing in different positions, he is young and talented. I think he is an excellent addition for us."
Since then, the 22-year-old has started just twice, and remained on the bench as Tottenham lost 1-0 to Fulham at the weekend. With the games coming thick and fast, Holtby would have expected at least one of the last three games, all which Spurs have lost, but only appeared once, in the away goals win in Milan against Internazionale.
With his side 3-0 up from the first leg, Holtby would have fancied getting some much needed game-time under his belt but instead Villas-Boas paired the ineffective Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor in attack, and also paid for it.
With Aaron Lennon’s absence through injury leading to Moussa Dembele being pushed wide, Spurs have lacked creativity from central midfield. Gareth Bale has delighted fans and pundits alike with his goalscoring activities but the Welshman is a direct threat, whereas Holtby is more technical and cunning.
The aforementioned Defoe and Adebayor have scored just once since New Years Day, and the lilywhites attack could do with some fresh legs and fresh minds. Holtby could provide this but his manager continues to select others despite form and fitness.
It can be difficult for January signings to blend into their new team, especially if they have come from abroad and operate in the congested midfield region. However, Holtby speaks perfect English thanks to an English father, has shown the energy and willingness to cover the ground and put in the work, and although he is yet to fully link-up with his team mates on the pitch, it is more because they are not yet on his wavelength rather than the other way round.
Lewis Holtby has showed a lot of promising signs that he could provide the missing link between Tottenham’s midfield and attack. Rather than deploying left-backs in midfield and central midfielders on the wing, Holtby should be given a chance. As Tottenham’s season teeters on the edge, it could be their German January signing who comes to the rescue.
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