Lucas Moura’s form on his debut was impressive. However, Mauricio Pochettino should manage his game-time carefully so that he receives the right exposure. Too much and he may be overwhelmed by the increased physicality and the English football culture. Too little and he will not develop enough in his new environment. Balance is required so that his integration into the team is as smooth as possible.
Lucas Moura’s Form Needs Protection
Debut at Rochdale
Rochdale couldn’t handle Moura. Despite the disappointment of a 2-2 draw, the Brazilian shone on his debut. It was immediately clear that he is a pacey, aggressive player, prepared to take players on and beat them with ease. He even has the necessary dribbling skill to explode past defenders. Spurs have lacked depth in this kind of player but now will have a back-up to the likes of Heung-Min Son. Furthermore, he even proved capable of scoring within 59 minutes of playing time. This will help to alleviate pressure on other squad members, by contributing to the goal haul.
Despite this excellent debut, any such serious analysis must be cautious. After all, Moura was playing against lower League One opposition. The standard of the Premier League is a lot higher and here he remains untested. It is possible to reflect on his experience at past clubs. At PSG, he was an important player until the arrival of the likes of Neymar in the summer. He has appeared 36 times for his national team, too. Thus, at 25 years of age, Moura has a little more experience than expected. It will be interesting to see how this experience equates to the Premier League standard.
Integration Needs Time and Space
Most recently, players such as Erik Lamela and even the captain Hugo Lloris had turbulent starts to their Tottenham careers. Lloris was shaky, lacking confidence and initially outcompeted by Brad Friedel. Since then he has become one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world. In comparison, Lamela was weak and unimpressive in his first season. However, his third and fourth seasons have been much more successful. Moura may have instantly impressed on his debut, in contrast to these slow starters, but it is quite likely he will soon encounter a rough patch of form. Pochettino has the patience for players, so long as they work hard enough and have the right mentality. Take his faith in Ryan Mason or his current utilisation of Moussa Sissoko. This must continue should Moura fail to continue on from his fantastic debut.
Pochettino will give Moura time, but also space. The key issue with players that have ‘flopped’ at Spurs has been due to pressure. Roberto Soldado and Vincent Janssen were both brought in, hopeful signings to fix the club’s inherent striker dilemma. Both strikers were given extended periods of time, with first-team football to prove themselves. However, when these strikers stood in for the likes of Harry Kane or Emmanuel Adebayor, they failed to make an impact. But, this was due to the pressure that was heaped on them, especially when they had to be played due to injuries or out of form players. Currently, there is much greater squad depth, and Moura simply adds to this depth. Thus, Pochettino is in a much better position to ease this player into the squad.
The club purchased Moura for around £25m, and it seems ludicrous to restrain this talent to the bench. But, nevertheless, it does allow the manager to call upon a much stronger bench than past seasons. Substituting Moura on would allow for a major pace injection in the late stages of the match. Furthermore, his directness helps to probe defences in search of goals. Therefore, whilst he must not be kept as an impact substitute, his early Tottenham career could be a fruitful one, even if appearing in shorter cameo performances.
After a single match, Moura is already piquing the interest of fans. His playing style is a delight to behold and he has netted his first goal. Now, Pochettino must carefully manage the player to ensure that he has enough game time to develop. With a deep squad to choose from, the manager can select the right matches and moments in which to do this. If Spurs can keep Moura from burning out too early on, they have a fantastic resource to call upon.