What Nacer Chadli will bring to Spurs

Nacer Chadli signing for Spurs sees him as the second high profile arrival of the summer.

The 23-year old Belgian continues a trend of bringing in young, talented players, who were running down their contracts.

But what will Nacer Chadli bring to Spurs and how could he fit in to the plans of Andre Villas-Boas?

Nacer Chadli the dribbler

A lot has been talked about how Nacer Chadli will line up on the left and cut inside on to his favoured right foot to shoot. One thing that hasn’t really been talked about is his ability to dribble with the ball and take players on.

FC Twente usually line up in a 4-3-3 with the young Belgian international on the left. Chadli is not a typical inverted wide forward. He does keep his width in order to receive the ball in transition, taking possession often wide on the touchline. However, he frequently takes control of the ball just inside the opposition half on the run so that he can drive at opponents with his impressive dribbling. Nowhere was this more evident than in last season’s Europa League where FC Twente drew 2-2 with Helsingborgs.

We can see from Stats Zone how FC Twente delivered the ball quickly out to Nacer Chadli, who was playing very wide. He received possession often midway inside the Helsingborgs half. The long diagonal nature of the passing lines out to him shows the intent to deliver it to him quickly.


Nacer Chadli passes received, FC Twente 2 Helsingborgs 2.

Once in possession, Chadli can then drive at his defender, often beating him with a mix of step overs or rolling his foot over the ball.

He torched the right back in this game, but his take-ons highlight his intent to cut in to the box diagonally from his left-sided position. From here he can either shoot or square a pass for a team mate, which we’ll look at next.


Nacer Chadli take-ons, FC Twente v Helsingborgs.

Nacer Chadli the creator

Whilst Chadli’s 25 goals in 84 games for FC Twente have been the stat of choice for many looking at the CV of our new acquisition, he is more than a goalscorer. The young Belgian also created 11 goals last term in the Eredivise and Europa League.

These assists come directly from his ability to drive at defenders and take them on, allowing him to cut inside the area. He can then square the ball or pass it across the goal.

As we saw above, he torched the Helsingborgs right back in FC Twente’s Europa League match. From there, he was able to create cutbacks and low-driven crosses from angles close to the goal.

If you also cast your mind back to our 3-3 draw with FC Twente during our Champions League campaign, Nacer Chadli did the same thing to Vedran Corluka. Admittedly, our Croatian right back was never that fleet of foot, but Chadli, whose accuracy wasn’t particularly on that night, gave him a torrid time.


Nacer Chadli can get in to crossing positions or cut it back from the by-line.

The ability of Nacer Chadli to not just score goals, but also to dribble and then square the ball for a team mate makes him a twin threat in attack.

Nacer Chadli the goalscorer

Nacer Chadli’s goals arrive in a number of ways.

First up, if he’s able to dribble past a defender with space in-behind, then he is a threat to cut inside at the corner of the box and slide the ball either side of the goalkeeper.

If the full back drops off to counter his pace, then he is a threat to move inside with the ball in front of the defender. From here he is able to unleash shots with his naturally more dangerous right foot.

If he moves in to the centre as play is out on the other flank, then he is a danger to receive the ball and dribble straight though the middle of the defence. He can also come on to the ball and shoot from range in these areas. Chadli can play in the advanced midfielder role, something he occasionally does for Twente but more often for the Belgian national side.

One of his more under-rated attributes may be from headers. Chadli measures up at 1.87 metres tall and although he is not an aerial presence in the box – only one of his 10 goals in the Eredivise last season arrived from his head – he can occasionally pop up unmarked from a cross.

Nacer Chadli the Free kick taker

Nacer Chadli also scores goals from free kicks. We had a glimpse of this during our 3-3 draw with FC Twente during our 2010-11 Champions League campaign. The Belgian curled a spectacular effort past Heurelho Gomes from just outside the penalty area on the left-hand side.

This was no one-off.

He is a regular threat to score from a free kick in this location, looking to wrap his foot around the ball and bend it in to the left side of the goal.

Gareth Bale will take the majority of our free kicks in shooting locations, but Nacer Chadli will be an option when the ball is on the left side of the goal.

What Nacer Chadli will bring to Spurs

If the arrival of Paulinho signalled Andre Villas-Boas intent to shift to a 4-3-3, then the addition of Nacer Chadli pretty much cements it.

The Belgian should take up his more accustomed role on the left of the front three with Gareth Bale moving to the right. This isn’t cast in stone though. Nacer Chadli can also play as an advanced midfielder or out to the right as well. This sees him as yet another player who can switch positions, meaning that this season’s side will have an even more fluid look about it.

Nacer Chadli will bring more than just an ability to cut inside on his favoured right foot and fire shots at goal though. His direct dribbling style gives us yet another strong runner, as AVB seems to be assembling a team that will overpower opponents with a mixture of strength, speed and pace. The head coach has talked about how the game in the Premier League is won by being quick in transitions and this team certainly will be swift in the counter attack.

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