With the loan re-signing of Gareth Bale becoming a case of when and not if at Tottenham, fans only have eyes for one winger – and understandably so.
Bale returning to Tottenham after making the big money move to Real Madrid seven years ago is like the Hardy Boyz’s return to WWE in 2017. Years of ups and downs, capped off by the ultimate romantic return to the rightful home where it all started.
Bale’s impending return – along with the signing of Sergio Reguilon – gives Spurs fans a lot to be happy about in a rather confusing era under Jose Mourinho. It’s not all as easy as that, though, as the Welshman’s return to north London is bound to have an adverse effect on someone. That someone is Lucas Moura.
Lucas signed for Spurs in January 2018 after finding himself at a bit of a dead end at Paris Saint-Germain. It looked like a bargain at the time, having signed him for around £25m, and to an extent it has been. He’s managed 23 goals and 12 assists from 109 appearances in all competitions thus far in north London, but with Bale returning and Steven Bergwijn only signing in January, the Brazilian is likely to fall down the pecking order.
Naturally a right winger, Moura has been at his best for Spurs in waves. He enjoyed a stellar first full season with the club, bagging 15 goals in the 2018/19 campaign as his side finished fourth in the Premier League. He added another element of goalscoring threat to the team, complimenting the work of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min with his bursts of pace, neat dribbling and knack to find the net.
He scored two hat-tricks that season; the first in a 4-0 thrashing of Huddersfield, and the more important second in the second leg of the Champions League semi final against Ajax. His three goals turned a 2-0 tie on its head and sent Spurs to their first ever Champions League final, but it’s all gone a bit quiet since.
He felt the brunt of managerial change and the Champions League hangover last season, which has left question marks over his ability in the long term from some Tottenham fans. Mourinho’s January 2020 signing of fellow right winger Steven Bergwijn – who’s one for the future at just 22 years old – reaffirmed those doubts.
A healthy bit of competition between the pair would usually spark some sort of reaction, but Moura has endured a rather difficult and uncreative 2020. Since the turn of the year, the 28-year-old has managed just three assists in the Premier League and has struggled to keep up with the likes of Bergwijn and Son. With Bale now expected to be in the mix, it seems like he’s the man to take up Mourinho’s senior, experienced place in the team in rotation with Bergwijn.
So, where does it leave Moura?
The Brazilian could make a competent backup to Son Heung-min on the left flank, or even as a deputy to Harry Kane. It’s not ideal for either party, however. He’s far more comfortable on the right wing and as playing as a striker would mean Tottenham changing their shape entirely to accommodate him. Instead of being competition for Kane, he’d likely be an option to make it two up front, rather than a direct replacement.
Having previously been edged out of the picture at PSG, it seems as though coaches just don’t fancy Moura for his inconsistency. At his best, he’s electric. But anything else and he’s coasting through a game almost invisibly. It’s not the kind of quality that attracts a top club, but Lucas has shown that he can come up with the goods when it matters most. He needs to use this to engineer a move away from Tottenham before transfer deadline day, in order to get the best out of his peak years.
Manchester United are desperate for a right winger, to nobody’s surprise. At this point, we’re aware of what Jadon Sancho has for breakfast and which space in the car park United have reserved for him. They still seem reluctant to part with the reported £108m asking price slapped on him by Borussia Dortmund however, and are exploring other avenues. Moura could be the perfect signing; he’s in his peak, could sign on a season-long loan or even permanently and be the catalyst the Red Devils need.
Alternatively, should Sancho make the move from Dortmund to United before the deadline, Moura could even end up in Germany as his replacement. Dortmund won’t want to splash such a high sum of cash on the wrong replacement, so signing Moura would give them quality in the short-term while they find the next Sancho.
Wherever it may be, be it Europe, China or even across to the States, time is ticking for Moura at Spurs. The Lilywhites will be in no rush to boot him out of the door, but if Moura wants to get the best out of his career and enjoy regular first-team action, now is the time to push for that move away and get out from under the shadow of the incoming Gareth Bale.