Uefa Champions League

SAMI MOKBEL: Golden boot winner Son Heung-min’s worth to Tottenham is immeasurable

Daily Mail Online

Back in the Champions League with his first Golden Boot taking pride of place on his mantle piece, Son Heung-min couldn’t be happier.

But as the South Korean approaches his seventh close season at Tottenham, matters could easily have been different.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s disastrous spell in charge left players questioning the direction Spurs were headed.

Tottenham sealed their Champions League return with a dominant win against Norwich Tottenham sealed their Champions League return with a dominant win against Norwich

Tottenham sealed their Champions League return with a dominant win against Norwich

Of course, Nuno was sacked, Antonio Conte was appointed and the rest his history.

You wonder, however, quite how Son would have approached the summer if Conte hadn’t ridden to the rescue.

What history tells us about Son is that he’s not one to agitate, although in the summer of 2016 – following his first season at the club – the forward was said to be considering his future after a stop-start campaign.

Son's goals against Norwich ensured he won his first Golden Boot by tying Mo Salah at the top Son's goals against Norwich ensured he won his first Golden Boot by tying Mo Salah at the top

Son’s goals against Norwich ensured he won his first Golden Boot by tying Mo Salah at the top

The season could have been so much different if Tottenham hadn't of hired Antonio Conte The season could have been so much different if Tottenham hadn't of hired Antonio Conte

The season could have been so much different if Tottenham hadn’t of hired Antonio Conte

Generally, though, Son’s stay has passed without so much as a hint – at least publicly – that he could leave.

For instance, there was genuine concern at Tottenham between 2017 and 2018 that they could lose Son to Manchester City.

His goals, all 47 of them since arriving in 2015, helped propel Spurs to three successive Champions League qualifications. Pep Guardiola liked what he saw.

But, as he so often does, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy pulled down the shutters.

In the summer of 2018, Son signed a new five-year contract – crisis averted without so much as a back page headline.

Yet it makes you wonder: what if Son had agitated?

Indeed, it’s puzzling to think that Son’s future has never really been the source of speculation akin to that that entrenched Harry Kane last summer.

Tottenham were in disarray at the start of the season under ex-manager Nuno Espirito Santo Tottenham were in disarray at the start of the season under ex-manager Nuno Espirito Santo

Tottenham were in disarray at the start of the season under ex-manager Nuno Espirito Santo

It’s certainly not because clubs haven’t wanted him – he’d walk into most teams in Europe.

‘There’s been interest in Son over the years but no club has really been brave enough to have a proper go because of Levy,’ said one well-placed source.

Son’s always had sufficiently long enough on his contract for Levy to have the upper hand – Kane found to his detriment last summer what happens when the Tottenham chairman doesn’t want you to leave.

However, it is acknowledged that Spurs’ success in nullifying interest in Son has been aided by the player’s humble nature.

Son is rare in a sense that he is a world class footballer without an ego.

You’ll be hard pushed to find anyone – certainly at Spurs – who has a bad word to say about Son.

If he was more self-centred, then there’s many who believe Son wouldn’t be at Tottenham today.

Arguably, Son is a victim of his own modesty. Equally, Tottenham will argue his £200,000-per-week wage hardly makes him a sufferer.

Son hasn't had the same speculation over his future as team-mate Harry Kane has had Son hasn't had the same speculation over his future as team-mate Harry Kane has had

Son hasn’t had the same speculation over his future as team-mate Harry Kane has had

It’s important not to mistake Son’s unassuming persona as a lack of ambition.

He wants Champions League football, he wants to be competing for major trophies.

That’s why he so enjoys working under Conte; he believes Spurs are heading in the right direction under the Italian.

If Tottenham hadn’t ended their Champions League exile this year then it is possible we’d have seen a side of Son we’ve not seen before.

The future of Conte, however, appears less clear-cut. He’s fallen short of confirming that he’ll be at the helm next season.

Spurs will likely continue to be Son's home and the club should not take that for granted Spurs will likely continue to be Son's home and the club should not take that for granted Read more – Daily Mail Online

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