In the wake of today’s news that Tottenham’s Brazilian bulldog, Sandro, is to undergo knee surgery following Saturday’s match at QPR, many will see that as a perfect opportunity to reintroduce 'first-choice' enforcer, Scott Parker, back in the starting line-up.
Parker is an able replacement, but Sandro's injury will only serve to highlight the fact that the former-Internacional star has now overtaken the 2011 Football Writer’s Player of the Year as Spurs’ top holding midfielder.
When Parker signed at White Hart Lane last summer, there were few who would have argued that he wasn’t one of the best combative midfielders in Europe, certainly the best in England.
He almost single-handedly saved West Ham from relegation and thoroughly deserved his aforementioned accolade, 20 months ago now. His reputation as a tough-tackling, ball-winning terrier in the middle of the park, for both club and country, has continued to grow ever since.
Ever since he was struck down with a bad Achilles problem last summer that is. Since then, Sandro’s performances in his wake have led some to believe that the 23 year-old is no longer deputising for Parker. Perhaps the tables have now turned.
This season, not a single player in Europe’s top five leagues has more interceptions than Sandro, and he ranks in the top ten for tackles made by players in the Premier League. This means that for the combination of these two stats, no one comes close to the Brazilian in top continental football.
Yes, Scott Parker would have done the same job had he not been injured. But the combined stats for tackles and interceptions per game shows that Sandro’s 6.9 so far this campaign is higher than Scott Parker’s for both the 2011/12 and 2010/11 seasons.
Not only that, but Sandro offers much more to the team at the other end of the pitch. On several occasions he has shown glimpses of the technique and ability usually expected of players from his country, not least with his two Spurs goals to date - a wonder-strike against Chelsea, and a not dissimilar effort at Craven Cottage last month.
With no goals to date in a Spurs shirt, 32 year-old Parker is undoubtedly entering the twilight of his career.
He remains a great player, and would walk into almost any team in the country, but his wavering ability to cause trouble at both ends of the pitch means that he will surely struggle to retain his place in the starting XI, once Sandro is back to full fitness.
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