Ben Davies with the tackle. Here’s Son. Sissoko. Here’s Dele Alli… Here’s Lucas Moura… OH THEY’VE DONE IT!
The conductor of Tottenham’s finest hour is lost under a pile of bodies in the Amsterdam Arena. Spurs are one game away from ending their trophy drought in the most memorable of seasons.
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Madrid arrives and the team sheet drops. Harry Kane makes a miraculous return from injury to start, Son Heung-min is there too. Lucas Moura? On the bench.
It’s been the tale of Moura’s career in England. An also-ran in the conversation of Tottenham’s attack, handed just 24 minutes to salvage the Champions League final despite arriving at the match as the obvious form pick.
That was despite his equaliser at Camp Nou securing Tottenham a spot in the Champions League knockout stages. Despite him running the Manchester City defence ragged in the quarter-final second leg. Despite him scoring the first hat-trick at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Despite him building a reputation for scoring big goals in north London.
Since then, he’s been left to bounce back from the catastrophic disappointment of that final chapter in June 2019. And he’s not been excellent this season. Far from it. No Tottenham player has. But amid the chaos, there is one constant. Moura, out of position but sprinting to close down defenders, refusing to give up.
Lucas Moura; José Mourinho
Image credit: Getty Images
Gloom has descended on Tottenham, who are unable to view their climb to Europe’s top table as what it was – a heroic effort, but ultimately a fluke. Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho have swapped places, prompting little change in results, as the club’s refusal to strengthen in previous windows has left the likes of Moura misused and underappreciated.
Among Mourinho’s many moans is the valid request for a decent striker to cover for Kane, a vacancy that has been largely unfilled for three seasons. Instead, Spurs recruited 5’10” winger Steven Bergwijn in January, with Moura unable to repeat his unlikely partnership with Son from last season alongside the Dutchman.
Moura lacks consistency, not application, but that’s what happens when you’re shunted from winger, then to substitute, then to lone striker. Not on merit, just on who else is available. It’s left him on the verge of burning out, abandoned in attack and only Giovani Lo Celso looking like creating anything for him.
Kane and Son have both made the transition from underrated to Europe’s finest. And this isn’t saying Moura is at that level. It’s just that while Spurs cater to the aforementioned duo, Moura is left – often successfully, recently less so – filling whatever vacancy in the team remains.
Everyone will have the own barometer for ‘underrated’. Some will argue that the Brazilian doesn’t fit in the category, that it’s an award for the likes of James Milner, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Raul Jimenez.
But has he had enough recognition? It was Moura who allowed Tottenham to take their biggest stride towards a proper trophy in the modern era. Not Kane. Not Son. It is Moura who fronts a sinking ship in north London, running himself into the ground despite the difficult circumstances.
And if rival clubs fail in their pursuits of Kane and Son this summer, they could do a lot worse than sign the third great player in Tottenham's attack.
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