Son Heung-min has arguably outperformed Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane for the past two years, according to Jermaine Jenas, and has helped to prove Pep Guardiola wrong.
Last season, Manchester City manager Guardiola used the phrase the “Harry Kane team” to help explain Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s strength but some disputed his assertion that Spurs are reliant on the England striker.
Kane is nearing a return from a five-week lay-off with an ankle injury, but the form of Son and the resilience of his team-mates has meant that they have kept up their challenge at the top of the Premier League table.
The South Korean star has scored 16 goals in his last 16 games in all competitions for his club, having also represented his country at two international tournaments in the past six months, winning the Asian Games in the early weeks of this season.
Jenas has been blown away by Son’s professionalism and told Goal: “Thankfully, Son got knocked out of the Asia games and he was able to come back early. The level of professionalism from him is unbelievable. He has travelled all over the world numerous times this season and he is back and ready to play.
“He is not only ready to play but he is producing, he is ready to fill the boots of Harry Kane. Essentially, it is that which has allowed Spurs to put themselves back into title contention.
“That’s not to discredit anyone else. Everyone is playing their part and they are tough moments when you lose a couple of your best players. You go onto the pitch lacking a little bit of that confidence and you can see that but they have dug deep and found some serious strength.
“Son, in my eyes, he is arguably Spurs’ best player for the last two years. Harry Kane had a below-par four or five months leading into the World Cup and that was partly due to injury. Within that period Son has been a shining light.
“In that period he was scoring goals last year and then hit the ground running again this year. With the emotions that he was going through going into the first time that he went to play in the Asian Games with the Under 23s. The circumstances surrounding that, he dealt with it. Then, to go again and come back, it can knock you out of your rhythm.
“It is interesting when you hear people describe Spurs as the ‘Harry Kane team’. If you look at most teams, they all have a star player. Whether it is Mohamed Salah at Liverpool or Eden Hazard at Chelsea.
“The flip side to that, would Christian Eriksen not get into the top sides in Europe? Would Dele Alli not get into the top sides in Europe? Lucas Moura was at PSG and they aren’t exactly average. There are plenty of players with that star power.“
Spurs had been ruled out of the title race by many but their recent run of five wins in their last six league games has seen them claw back into title contention.
Their good form has come as Manchester City and Liverpool have both had slip-ups and third-placed Spurs are now just five points off the reigning champions, with a game in hand. However, even with his connection to the club, Jenas is still not convinced that Spurs have enough to win the Premier League this season.
“It feels like a lot to say yes,” he concluded. “My head is telling me not yet, I don’t think they will do. It depends on what you class as a success. The team didn’t dip into the transfer market, so to improve it was about performance.
"They have managed to improve their season by getting more points than any point at this stage in the season. The cups, they were unfortunate. They lost to a top side in Chelsea. In the FA Cup, they lost their best players and it was a bad performance.
“For the other two tournaments [Champions League and Premier League], I do think that’s one or two seasons away and that’s where the investment needs to be made. If they get Champions League qualification comfortably, then that will be a remarkable achievement.
“They have got games at Anfield and the Etihad. If they can go and win those games then they are serious contenders but they have not done that for years. If they can, who knows.”
Jermaine Jenas was speaking at the launch of the Coca-Cola and Premier League campaign, ‘Where Everyone Plays’ and features in the new TV ad as Coca-Cola’s newest ambassador. Watch the film in full here: https://youtu.be/8_XBxcIoZy0