The £36m striker gamble Tottenham could make this summer to get one over on Arsenal

Spurs could sign a striker who has been targeted by Arsenal this summer - but is there a reason their rivals have backed off?
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Having been linked with a move to the Emirates since last summer, it wasn’t necessarily surprising that Mexican striker Santiago Giménez was spotted at last weekend’s north London derby with his agent. It is, perhaps, more surprising that he is far more likely to be signing with Tottenham Hotspur than Arsenal.

It may be more surprising still that there aren’t many pundits in Mexico or the Netherlands, where he plays with Feyenoord, who would recommend that Spurs make that move at all, even if it meant getting one over on their old rivals. Because having stormed his way onto the rumour mill with a lengthy and wildly impressive goalscoring sheet, Giménez’s form has collapsed completely.

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Having scored 15 goals in his first season in the Eredivisie after moving from Cruz Azul in his home country, Giménez started the 2023/24 campaign off like a steam train – he hit 13 goals in his first nine league games, including a hat-trick against Ajax, scored twice against Lazio in the Champions League group stages, looked utterly imperious and seemed set for superstar status and a big-money move.

But the goals have dried up suddenly, and don’t seem to be coming back. In his last 12 Eredivise games, he has scored just twice and missed a host of chances. Where once the ball seemed to end up in the net every time he touched it, now he doesn’t look able to hit the main stand of De Kuip from ten yards out. He’s missing penalties, he’s missing sitters, and his early-season shot conversion rate of 45% (an astonishing and admittedly unsustainable number) has now regressed to just 20% on the season. Things look rather bleak.

But still Spurs are interested, at least according to Sport Witness, who have corralled reports from Italy and Mexico that suggest Ange Postecoglou have identified him as a key summer target – and they aren’t alone, with AC Milan also interested. Despite his drastic downturn, a bid of £36m will still be required to sign him.

The question, really, is whether Spurs would be signing the version of Giménez that started the season in such astonishing fashion or the 2024 edition, who seems bereft of confidence and is certainly fresh out of form. There are no guarantees either way, of course, but Spurs can at least ensure that they use him in such a way that his qualities come to the fore and his natural deficiencies don’t. Giménez is, for example, excellent at finding a half-yard of space in the box by using his strength and slippery movement, but his touch and passing aren’t the best and he isn’t an expert at providing high-quality link-up play.

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That may serve, in part, to explain why he has never been able to score goals for his national team at the same rate as he did for Feyenoord even when he was on form. His domestic side have used him as an out-and-out number nine, with the majority of his touches coming in or just outside the box – Mexico, meanwhile, have had him coming deeper, and he gets the ball in the penalty area around 25% less often. As such, he’s never hit the heights at international level, scoring just four times in 25 caps to date.

Of course, the alternative explanation is that he’s a mediocre striker with some impressive physical attributes who struck a rich vein of form and confidence in the Netherlands which has now been depleted. To score at such a high rate over the course of nearly 18 months isn’t something which can normally be explained away by variance or luck, but perhaps it’s closer to the truth than Spurs would care to admit - or perhaps his confidence won’t be restored as easily as they might hope. His goalscoring record back in La LigaMX wasn’t spectacular, either, merely solid. He may well prove to be a flash in the pan.

But it seems increasingly likely that Spurs are willing to take that gamble. The best version of Giménez is almost certainly worth £36m or even more, and he could be the genuine number nine that they’ve been missing this season – and a rod to beat Arsenal fans with if their club decides against making the bid that they seemed to be seriously considering before his form fell off a cliff. Or, of course, the reverse could be true. Signing Giménez would be a huge gamble – but the potential rewards are substantial.

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