Chadli’s pleased with progress at Spurs after 13th goal of the season
Tottenham’s 2013 summer transfer window is generally regarded as a disaster - the period when the club sold Gareth Bale and blew his world record fee on the likes of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho and Vlad Chiriches.
This time last year the jury was out on Nacer Chadli too. The Belgian’s contribution of five goals and four assists in his first season at White Hart Lane was hardly spectacular, and it was often unclear what his best role was. Tim Sherwood even tried deploying him in central midfield.
Twelve months on, Chadli has just scored his 13th goal of the season and, at £7million, he is looking like a real bargain - certainly one of their better recent recruits.
His goal tally only tells half the story though. Like many of his team-mates, Chadli has seemingly run out of energy, motivation or both as the season has worn on. The death of his father in January also understandably affected his form and he admitted “it took me a while to enjoy football”.
The Belgian has been largely anonymous for large periods of a number of games and, for a while, seemed to keep his place only because of the lack of competition on the left flank. However, the goals have kept coming over the last month.
A long-range strike opened the scoring at Newcastle on April 19 and, although the 25-year-old struggled to make an impact for much of the following game at Southampton, it was he who popped up with the 70th-minute equaliser in the 2-2 draw.
He was probably lucky not to have been substituted by that point, and it was a similar tale against Hull on Saturday. Chadli had been virtually anonymous for 54 minutes but came up with the all-important breakthrough goal – his third in his last five games.
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His latest strike has taken him past Christian Eriksen’s tally for the season (12), while he has created the same number of goals for his team-mates as the Dane (five). His performances may have been mixed in the second half of the campaign, but few can criticise Chadli’s end product.
He is keen to point out that his first season in England was undermined by injuries and, having stayed fit and had a second year to adapt to the Premier League, he is pleased with his progress and insists there is more to come.
“I came from Twente and people expected a lot from me,” said Chadli. “When you’re not fit you want to prove yourself and sometimes you force yourself a bit too much and it’s not happening - with injuries and stuff like this, it’s difficult.
“I had two injuries during last season. I had an ankle injury and a hamstring injury so I missed six weeks twice and to come back is always difficult.
“I feel there were some improvements this season because I was fit all year long, almost. For me it was important to play games in a row and to adapt myself also to the Premier League.
“It’s a totally different competition. When you come even from Spain or Germany sometimes you have to adapt because the speed in the game is so different.
“I think I’ve played more this season and I’ve had confidence from the staff and the players as well. I’m fully fit so for me it’s important to play like this and improve even more for next season.
“I always want to do more, I’m never happy with what I do because I know I have more in myself to show, and I want to do that.”
Tottenham’s 2-0 home win over Hull on Saturday helped to lift the mood after the previous weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Stoke.
“We’re very happy to win the last home game of the season, for our fans,” said Chadli. “They gave us great support and we’re happy.
“We’ve had some great moments this season, the final of the Capital One Cup and we also had big wins in the [league] competition. We had some dips in form but we want to finish this season well and to secure a place in the Europa League.”
Chadli declined to be drawn on what Tottenham need to do this summer to close the gap on the top four teams, stating “the staff and the chairman can talk about this decision”.
But he admits he is unsurprised to see reports that Manchester United are interested in signing Harry Kane.
“I’m not surprised because he’s a big talent,” said Chadli. “He’s scored 30 goals or more this season so he’s proved himself in the Premier League and at international level, so it’s normal that big clubs want to get him.
“He’s still young, Harry, and I think it’s not a decision for me to take. He’s an adult and he’s big enough to take his decisions. He still has a long contract with Spurs so we’ll see [what happens].”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs