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Transfer Rater: Eriksen to Real Madrid

Football Whispers
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Transfer Rater: Milinkovic-Savic to Tottenham

Football Whispers
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Tottenham must like what they are seeing already from recent signing Lucas Moura

The phrase "like a new signing" is a cliche, and Tottenham fans eager for transfer activity may well have rolled their eyes when Mauricio Pochettino suggested this week that agreeing contract extensions with five players is tantamount to securing new recruits.

But, judging by Wednesday's 4-1 win over Roma in San Diego, a few players who have arrived in the last two windows are looking more settled and better able to make telling contributions.

It is common for players who switch cubs, and particularly those who move to the Premier League, to require a period of adjustment. Often they perform better in their second season than in their the first.

Son Heung-Min was one such example. The South Korean managed 10 goals in his first campaign and his future was in doubt in the summer of 2016. But he has gone from strength to strength, scoring 40 times in the two campaigns since.

If some of their more recent additions can follow suit and perform more consistently, Spurs' squad will immediately look stronger, regardless of who else comes in -- and the early signs have been positive in that regard.

Serge Aurier was an erratic figure last season after his move from Paris Saint-Germain, getting sent off against West Ham and conceding clumsy penalties against Real Madrid, Juventus and Brighton. But he spoke confidently and promisingly this week about improving: "I know the Premier League, I know the players, all the people who work in the team. Now I'm ready."

The Ivorian quickly backed up his words with his display against Roma, setting up Spurs' third goal with a pinpoint cross.

Similarly, Fernando Llorente disappointed in his first season at Tottenham but looked much more capable against Roma, scoring two first-half goals.

The player who could make the biggest impact, though, is January signing Lucas Moura, who also struck twice before halftime against last season's Champions League semifinalists.

Pochettino has stressed how difficult it is to get the best out of players who arrive late in the summer window -- a mitigating factor for Aurier and Llorente after their struggles last season -- and it is even tougher for those who arrive in the winter window to make an immediate impression.

Lucas was therefore used sparingly after following Aurier from PSG to Tottenham, making only five starts in the second half of the season, with three of those coming in the FA Cup.

But there were still exciting glimpses of what the Brazilian can offer, and he underlined his qualities again against Roma. Spurs have a few intelligent players who are adept at getting between the lines and picking passes around the edge of the box -- Cristian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Erik Lamela. But for too long Son was the only player offering a different option, the combination of pace and trickery that can unlock highly organised and defensive opponents, while also punishing those who leave themselves exposed on the counter-attack.

The signings of Clinton Njie, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and even Moussa Sissoko were seemingly designed to give Spurs that extra speed; that ability to scare opponents with direct running and give them another problem. None of those players has had the desired impact, and Spurs have been repeatedly linked with Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha -- but Lucas looks like he can tick the box.

As Pochettino has said, pace in itself is not enough. If it were, he joked, he would sign Usain Bolt. If it were, Sissoko would be a fan favourite.

As Spurs' manager rightly says, speed has to be combined with the ability to beat a man. It also has to be combined with an end product. Lucas has all of this, as he showed against Roma.

In addition to scoring twice, first with his head and then with a low shot from the edge of the box, he ghosted to the back post to meet a Lamela cross and forced a save that gifted Llorente his second goal.

Importantly, Lucas is also playing his part without the ball and has embraced Pochettino's pressing style. On the final day of last season he intercepted a Leicester pass and sent Harry Kane through to score Spurs' first goal of the 5-4 thriller. On Wednesday, he won the ball back deep in Roma's half to start the move that led to Llorente's first strike. He was heavily involved in all four goals.

Tottenham supporters will naturally continue to demand new signings. But if their January recruit, who is taking part in his first preseason with the club, continues to perform as he did against Roma then he will solve a long-running issue in the squad from the start.

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