Daniel Levy smashed the Spurs transfer record to bring Roberto Soldado to White Hart Lane in a £26 million deal.
But what will the Spanish international add to the team and how will it change the way we play this season?
Valencia set up and style for Soldado
Valencia were set up to create goal scoring opportunities through their use of through balls and crosses that were either cut backs or low-driven balls.
Operating out of a 4-2-3-1 system, play was quickly shifted out to the wide players or Ever Banega in the hole.
From here, Banega could feed Roberto Soldado with passes slid through the defence to take advantage of his intelligent runs. If the ball was worked wide, then they would look to get in to a situation whereby a low-driven cross or cutback could be played in to the feet of the Spanish international.
Valencia destroyed Malaga 5-1 at the Mestalla with their use of crossing and cut backs; whilst Espanyol were carved open by through balls.
Since the arrival of Andre Villas-Boas, the Portuguese has adopted a similar style.
We saw a shift in our play last season, whereby we were looking to thread the ball through for a runner on the other side.
Whether this was for a direct run on goal, as it was for both of our strikes by Bale and Lennon in Spurs 2 Arsenal 1 at White Hart Lane. Or, if it was to put a wide player in behind the opposing full back so that he can square to a team mate, as we did in Spurs 3 Man CIty 1, we’ve scored goals both ways.
You can check out the match reports above and I also took an in-depth look at this in “Are Spurs starting to score goals the Andre Villas-Boas way?” if you want to read more.
Roberto Soldado is the perfect forward to fit this style of play if AVB is going to continue in the same manner this season.
The play of Roberto Soldado
Roberto Soldado has been labelled as a fox in the box and a finisher, but he does so much more.
Roberto Soldado movement
Our new striker is a decent target for hold-up play.
Whilst he may not be strong in the air, he is excellent at holding the ball up and bringing others in to play when it is fed in to his feet. He is then able to move it out to the wider players and then looks to move in to the box himself to score.
If we go back to the game against Espanyol, we can see how he moves across the entire width of the pitch to receive passes played in to him midway inside the opposition half. Further up the field, he takes a number of passes, including one for a goal, which are fed through the inside left and right channels.
When in possession (right hand diagram), he moves the ball wide or just simply lays it off. One of his lay offs inside the area creates a goal.
His hold up play is good, but his movement to run the channels and also when he is inside the box, is even better.
As we’ve seen, Valencia like to create by through balls and from low-driven crosses and a great example of this was his wonder strike against Levante.
The ball is moved wide in to a crossing situation and Roberto Soldado looks to be covered by his marker.
As the ball is comes in, Soldado’s quick movement to pull away from the defender creates a pocket of space for him to volley home the low-driven cross.
Another example sees him pull a similar move when the ball is again out on the right flank.
Soldado seems to be well covered by the defenders, but his anticipation of when the low-driven cross is coming allows him to pull back from his marker and score.
But it’s not just goals from low-driven crossing situations, he also works the inside channels.
Ever Banega was excellent at threading passes through the defence all season, feeding the Spanish international with quality service.
Roberto Soldado has the anticipation to stay onside, but this also allows him to be first to loose balls and a number of his goals arrive this way.
Roberto Soldado anticipation
Whilst Roberto Soldado scores a fair share of his strikes from through balls and low-driven crosses, his anticipation also gets him a number of goals.
When a shot is fired in, you can usually count on the Spanish international to be expecting a miss or a rebound and looking to pounce.
Here we can see just that. A shot from the edge of the box already sees Roberto Soldado looking to move past the centre back.
The effort is pushed across goal by the keeper and the Spanish international is first to the rebound having anticipated that there may be an opportunity.
In similar fashion, his striker’s anticipation is on display once again.
Another shot is fired from the corner of the area and Soldado is looking to move past his marker who is ball-watching.
The keeper is unable to hold the shot and as a result of his early anticipation and movement, Soldado is once again first to the loose ball to prod it home.
Headers and volleys
Whilst not the strongest in aerial duels, Roberto Soldado does get his fair share of headed goals, but even more arrive through volleys.
The Spanish hit man scored four times with his head last season for Valencia, again as a result of his excellent movement to pull away from his marker in the box. He also scored a number of spectacular volleys, including the one against Levante (illustrated in the movement section above) and a thunderbolt against Atletico Madrid.
The strike once again highlighted his movement to run the channels and move off a defender, just prior to the ball being delivered.
As the ball dropped over his head, he unleashed an un-saveable volley that flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
How Roberto Soldado will change Spurs
With Andre Villas-Boas moving to a 4-3-3 system this season, a striker who can run the channels and work space in the box was needed.
Jermain Defoe looks to play on the shoulder and run the channels, but is not adept in crossing situations. Emmanuel Adebayor drops deep to link the play well, but doesn’t get in the box quickly enough to play with wide forwards.
Last season Andre Villas-Boas was trying to get us create more goals from passes slid through the opposition defence in order to get runners in-behind. This could be either from a through ball in to the channels or to a wide player running behind the opposing full back. The player running on to the pass could either shoot if going through the middle, or if in a wider area, he could cross or cut the ball back.
The ability of Roberto Soldado to get in behind a defence by working the channels, whilst also playing high enough up to get on the end of low crosses and cut backs should see him excel.
Soldado’s movement and anticipation in and around the box will see the Spanish international fit right in with what Andre Villas-Boas is trying to achieve with this Tottenham team.