Playing the understudy to Harry Kane is a bitter-sweet situation for any young striker. On the one hand, the prospect of learning from one of the Premier League’s all-time prolific forwards. On the other, a distinct lack of Premier League minutes. Furthermore, the Spurs talisman does not look like slowing down this season. With 18 goals and 14 assists in 26 games, the England captain has been in scintillating form for Jose Mourinho’s side.
The understudy in question has certainly given Mourinho another viable striking option. Carlos Vinicius has hit the ground running since his loan switch from Portuguese giants Benfica. He has netted six times whilst laying on a further three assists for teammates in as little as nine games for the Lilywhites. Remarkably, the Brazilian has only started five games for Spurs in all competitions, a testament to his knack for scoring goals.
The 6”3 target-man hasn’t always been primarily focused on scoring. During his youth career, he was largely employed as a central defender due to his height and athleticism. He made his senior debut in 2017 as a defensive midfielder for fourth-tier Brazilian side Caldense. A move to Gremio Anapolis saw Vinicius play as an attacking midfielder before completing his rapid positional journey to become a forward. A switch to Europe saw the striker join Portuguese side Real SC. A £4 million switch to Napoli resulted in impressive loan moves to both Rio Ave and Monaco. Vinicius eventually signed for Portuguese champions Benfica in the summer of 2019. Notching 18 goals and 5 assists in 32 league matches for The Eagles was enough to convince Spurs chairman Daniel Levy into a year-long loan with a £45 million option to buy this summer.
Spurs fans have grown familiar with seeing Vinicius bring down long-balls and link play. These characteristics make him a useful weapon for when Mourinho’s side cannot play a counter-attacking game. As well as his strength and aerial threat, Vinicius has a respectable burst of pace and is technically adept to dribble at speed. This dimension to his game provides a more than valid attacking alternative for days in which Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are struggling to convert.
During his stint at Benfica, Vinicius was primarily utilised as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation. Mourinho has employed the same formation at points in his successful spell at Inter Milan, as well as currently in North London. The prospect of having both Kane and Vinicius to deal with is a headache for any centre-back partnership. Due to his pace and impressive agility, Vinicius also occasionally occupied a wide attacking birth during his time in Portugal. This gives the Special One a more combative wide option compared to the trickery of Steven Bergwijn, the raw pace of Lucas Moura, and the intelligence of Gareth Bale.
The current situation is beneficial for both the club and the player. At 25-years-old, Vinicius is entering the golden years of his career. Having been given a chance in the Premier League, he will feel he has to seize every playing opportunity that comes his way. Furthermore, having a hungry striker seeking to prove he belongs at the top level will only benefit Spurs. Time will tell if Vinicius has impressed enough to warrant a permanent switch.