When Tottenham had Harry Kane, they always had a problem with his backup. They needed a striker good enough to replace Kane when he was injured or needed a rest, but also someone happy enough to have no real chance of ever usurping him as the first-choice forward.

For years on end, it proved impossible to find a player who fit the bill. Even last season, having finally gone big on a backup, Richarlison always looked completely undercooked whenever he was called upon and he scored only one league goal in 1,008 minutes all campaign.

Now, without Kane, Spurs have a new problem. Richarlison is the only natural, senior number nine in their squad. He’s obviously a very good striker – Brazil manager Tite has gone into several international tournaments with Richarlison as his main forward – but having never scored more than 13 league goals in a season, and after a string of below-par performances to start 2023-24, there is an argument that he isn’t reliable enough to head into a full season without another option up front.

He got his first goal of the season in the Carabao Cup second-round defeat to Fulham on Tuesday night, but it was another poor all-round display in which he again barely got into any good goalscoring positions. He has generated just 0.8 expected goals (xG) in almost five hours of game time so far this season.

Richarlison xg plot

New manager Ange Postecoglou has said he is happy to play captain Son Heung-min as a central striker if need be, and moving Son into the middle for the final stages of the win over Manchester United gave Spurs a different edge against an opponent who were chasing an equaliser. But Son undoubtedly looked less comfortable there; he hasn’t played consistently as a lone striker at club level ever, really.

The other consideration for Spurs is that they have new teenage signing Alejo Véliz in reserve, although he has been ruled out of first-team action for the foreseeable future by Postecolgou, who insists the youngster will need time to settle in. Dane Scarlett presumably also fancies his chances as second-choice, too, but his 45-minute substitute appearance at Fulham will have done little to convince his manager that he is a viable option to play semi-regularly in the Premier League.

After that midweek loss, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Postecoglou did decide to dip into the transfer market in the final days of the transfer window for a first-team-ready striker who can push Richarlison and challenge for a starting spot, even though Spurs are only now guaranteed to play another 36 games this season in all competitions – the fewest of all Premier League teams. He might well feel as though his team needs an alternative to Richarlison, even if signing another forward would stunt the development of Véliz and Scarlett.

So, if they do decide to sign a striker, who should they go for? Here are five options for strikers that Tottenham could sign.

Gift Orban

A name that has been consistently linked with Tottenham this summer, 21-year-old Nigerian striker Orban is a – erm – gifted youngster with a frankly ludicrous goalscoring record. After moving to Europe just over a year ago, he scored 16 goals in 22 appearances in half a season in the Norwegian First Division, before earning a move to Gent in the Belgian top tier in January.

He took to life in Belgium with just as much ease, scoring 15 in 16 games for Gent in his first half-season there, while also taking the UEFA Europa Conference League by storm, including scoring a stunning 205-second hat-trick, the fastest treble ever seen in a UEFA club competition.

He scores all kinds of goals from all kinds of areas, with his 15 league goals last season coming from just 8.45 xG; his positive difference of 6.55 gave him the eighth-best record in the top 10 European leagues in 2022-23, only 0.86 behind second-placed Erling Haaland (7.41).

His xG map shows the range of areas he is willing to shoot from, which highlights his sky-high confidence, but also a slightly overambitious streak.

Gift Orban xg map

You may have noticed the tiny dot on the centre circle on the above graphic. Yes, he did indeed shoot directly from kick-off in one game. (No, he didn’t score, but he did hit the bar.)

Though goalscoring is his main strength, he also does a lot of good work in build-up, dropping back to get involved before busting a gut to get into the box, while also at times pulling wide to deliver balls into the box. He averaged 1.1 chances created per 90 for Gent last season – incidentally, that is exactly the same number of goals he averaged per 90 minutes played – showing that he is more than just a goalscorer.

He is still playing at a relatively low level, though. Former Spurs forward Vincent Janssen is currently the joint-top scorer in the Belgian Pro League, with two more goals than Orban. That might not breed confidence in Tottenham fans that Orban is ready for Premier League football.

Kyogo Furuhashi

Whenever any manager moves away from a successful team, there is always some suggestion that he will look back to his old club for players who ‘know how to play under him.’ That has so far proved not to be the case for Postecoglou, but he could do worse than turning back to Kyogo Furuhashi.

The Japanese forward scored 27 league goals for Celtic as they stormed to the Scottish Premiership title in 2022-23, while also netting key goals in the cups to help secure a domestic treble.

kyogo furuhashi touches

Postecoglou is happy for his striker to stay in high, central positions, and although he wants movement that might help drag a centre-back out of their slot, the main thing he wants is a player to finish off chances close to goal. Furuhashi did the job perfectly.

He outscored his xG (20.1) by 6.9, the fifth-best such rate in Europe’s top 10 leagues, scoring 26 of his 27 goals from inside the penalty area. He boasted an impressive conversion rate of 30.7% (by way of comparison, Haaland’s was 29.3% in Premier League games last season, while Kane’s was 23.1%) with a very even split of 14 with his right foot and 12 with his left (plus one header).

He knows Ange-ball well, and in that sense would be a very easy fit into the Spurs side; Furuhashi is happy to drop into midfield from time to time, but he does most of his best work finishing off chances. The step up to the Premier League would be a big one, but at least his manager would know he could trust him to do the job he wants.

Brennan Johnson

Another name that has consistently popped up alongside talk of Tottenham’s hunt for a new forward is that of Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson. A quick, direct and promising young forward who also has a full season’s Premier League experience under his belt, Johnson represents rather less of a risk than some of the other names linked to Tottenham. He could battle for a first-team spot straight away while also bringing bags of potential for the future.

He would also, however, be considerably more expensive, with talk of a £50 million price tag on his head. He also doesn’t exactly provide a guaranteed supply of goals, having scored eight times in the league last season and 16 in 46 regular season appearances in Forest’s promotion-winning campaign in the Championship in 2021-22. In fact, he isn’t even, really, a number nine, having played on the right side of Forest’s attack in Premier League games more often than he has done through the middle since they won promotion in 2022.

Brennan Johnson minutes played by position

That isn’t to say he wouldn’t be a useful addition to Tottenham’s ranks on the right wing. Postecoglou has previously liked playing with one of his wide forwards on their ‘natural’ flank, and right-footed Johnson would be a very different option to Dejan Kulusevski on the right wing.

He is a very willing runner, and a very fast one, too. He was responsible for 727 pressures last season (defensive actions where a player on the out-of-possession team moves to close down an opposing player), which put him 23rd of all players in the Premier League, despite the fact he was playing for the team that sat back the most. The average distance from their own goal that Forest’s sequences started last season was lower (38.9m) than any other Premier League side.

Forest did a lot of counter-attacking as a result, and Johnson was key. Only Mohamed Salah (16) and Harry Kane (13) had more shots from counter-attacks in the Premier League last season than Johnson (12), while the Forest man also hit the second-highest top speed of all players in the top flight, with his 22.8 mph just behind Kyle Walker’s 23.2 mph.

While Johnson is very much Premier League ready, it isn’t entirely clear that he solves the problem that Tottenham have. At 22, he is still very young, though, and his pace would at least make him an exciting addition. On the right wing, at least.

Taiwo Awoniyi

Could another Forest forward provide a better solution to Spurs’ striker problems in Taiwo Awoniyi? He would bring nothing like the versatility of Johnson, only able to play through the middle, but he would most certainly be able to push Richarlison as a viable alternative up front.

Awoniyi’s goal at Old Trafford at the weekend meant he broke the record for a Forest player scoring in the most consecutive top-flight games, with seven. Four games off Jamie Vardy’s record of 11, Awoniyi has the chance to make history if he can keep his purple patch going.

He fits the Postecoglou mould as a forward who concentrates on scoring goals, with only Erling Haaland (23.1) and Callum Wilson (30.8) averaging fewer touches per goal in the Premier League last season than Awoniyi (49.1). He is also lethal in front of goal, having maintained a conversion rate of 28.6%, the second-highest rate behind Haaland (29.3%) of players to score more than five goals in the English top flight in 2022-23. Clearly, he is much more than a penalty-box poacher – his goal at Old Trafford last week showed how well he can carry the ball forward at pace – but finishing is his greatest strength.

He has extended his form into 2023-24, scoring three goals from just five shots (60% conversion rate), and averaging just 24.7 touches per goal. He might cost as much as Johnson if not more, but if the plan is to sign a player who will immediately help replenish the goals lost when Kane left, then Awoniyi might be a better fit than Johnson.

Santiago Giménez

Feyenoord’s player of the season in their title-winning 2022-23 campaign, 22-year-old Mexican Santiago Giménez (who featured in our list of 50 players to watch in 2023-24) will surely make the jump from the Eredivisie to one of Europe’s top five leagues before long. He has only spent one year in the Netherlands so he might not be in a rush to move on, but his goalscoring last season (23 goals in all competitions) was certainly enough to catch the eye.

Spurs will know better than most how much risk comes with signing forwards from the Eredivisie, and if they signed Giménez they would certainly hope that left-footedness is the only trait he shares with Vincent Janssen (bet you didn’t expect his name to be mentioned twice on this page!).

The Mexican is a tenacious and rather one-footed striker who holds the ball up well and likes to dribble. He could do with maturing a little; he takes on shots when he shouldn’t sometimes (17.4% conversion rate) and often attempts a dribble when there is a simple pass on. His 24.1% dribble success rate was the worst of all Eredivisie players to attempt 50 dribbles last season.

Santiago Gimenez xg map

But he does get into good goalscoring positions with impressive consistency. His non-penalty xG of 14.7 was the second-highest in the Eredivisie, while with 15 goals, only two players scored more non-penalty goals than him.

He might be a little raw for the Premier League, but he is well ahead of Véliz or Scarlett in developmental terms, so if the aim is to bring in a striker who could challenge Richarlison immediately and eventually threaten to take his place in the first team, Giménez appears to fit the bill.

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