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    Spurs star who was ‘destroyed’ by Maddison on debut has become ‘titanic’

    Anyone doubting Ange Postecoglou‘s ability to turn Tottenham Hotspur into a machine to compete against the Premier League‘s heavy hitters would have to concede that the progress made thus far certainly points toward an upward trajectory.

    Before the summer, there was scant evidence that Spurs were headed anywhere close to a direction of promise, languishing to an eighth-placed finish after sacking Antonio Conte – the fourth managerial dismissal in as many years – in a series of mishaps that all-but-confirmed Harry Kane‘s summer sale.

    But now, 24 matches into the 2023/24 campaign and reclaiming a spot in the top four with a last-gasp victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, Spurs’ credentials against outfits more cemented and established in their development underpin Postecoglou’s exemplary work so far.

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    The 58-year-old has combined with chairman Daniel Levy to make some impactful transfers in the market, James Maddison and Micky van de Ven the summer standouts, while reviving some of the club’s most talented players who had unquestionably fallen by the wayside last term – Heung-min Son, Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski, stand up.

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    Ange Postecoglou is starting to build a team of real potential.

    The frustrating thing for Tottenham fans before the summer was that the squad was brimming with quality, and while Conte’s tenure spiralled, one of his last acts in signing Pedro Porro will go down as an unmitigated success, the Spaniard performing as one of the Premier League’s finest players this season.

    Why Spurs signed Pedro Porro

    It was January 2023 and Chelsea were on a transfer rampage, with Todd Boehly’s spending spree welcoming fresh faces at Stamford Bridge with unrelenting conviction.

    One player who didn’t wind up at the club was Porro, who was at the centre of a transfer battle between Spurs and their London rivals, who were believed to have the lead in the race initially.

    Tottenham prevailed on deadline day, completing a loan move for the Sporting Lisbon right-back with an obligation to buy for €45m (£40m) in the summer, with underperforming Matt Doherty transferring to Atletico Madrid at the same time after the London club agreed to terminate his contract.

    A dynamic and multi-faceted wide defender, Porro had been hailed for his “sensational” performances in Portugal by analyst Zach Lowy and clearly boasted natural ability to propel him to the front of the Premier League, but he didn’t hit the ground running.

    First impressions of Pedro Porro at Spurs

    Porro arrived with a weight of expectation after posting three goals and 11 assists for Sporting over the first half of the 2022/23 season, and while he forged some promising displays, the 24-year-old’s spatial awareness and defensive acumen were called into question several times.

    Indeed, Porro endured a debut to forget at the start of February, just over one year ago, against imperilled Leicester City, suffering at the centre of a 4-1 defeat that sparked the beginning of the club’s seasonal demise.

    While ex-Spurs manager Tim Sherwood’s comments (video above) were inordinately scathing, it is interesting to see how Porro has adapted and grown from that initial misfire, especially given the pundit’s declaration that he was “destroyed” by James Maddison, who then played for the Foxes.

    Branded with a 4/10 match rating by correspondent Alasdair Gold, Porro was left-red-faced indeed, the journalist writing: ‘A tough, nervy start to life in the Premier League with a poor first touch and then he was sold a dummy by Barnes which led to Bentancur getting booked. Chances to get forward were rare and he looked shaky at the back. He will hopefully adapt but this was not a debut to remember fondly.’

    Pedro Porro’s Spurs debut

    Minutes played

    75

    Touches

    49

    Accurate passes

    20/24 (83%)

    Key passes

    0

    Crosses

    1/2

    Dribble success

    2/5

    Duels won

    7/13

    Possession lost

    12x

    Stats via Sofascore.

    Clinching three goals and three assists apiece throughout the latter half of the Premier League season, the £85k-per-week ace did manage to show his offensive abilities but was found out defensively all too often, with pundit Jamie Carragher remarking that he “can’t defend” after a particularly damaging 6-1 defeat against Newcastle United.

    Postecoglou’s summer appointment marked a fresh start, a new beginning, and it’s one that Porro has grasped with both hands, thriving as one of the division’s superlative full-backs.

    Tottenham player Pedro Porro.

    Pedro Porro’s season in numbers

    Porro has been absolutely brilliant under Postecoglou’s leadership, flying in with tackles, chipping in with assists and providing his peers with a constant outlet down the right flank, heralded for his “titanic” efforts by The Athletic’s Charlie Eccleshare.

    As per Sofascore, he has racked up seven assists from 23 matches in the English top-flight this season, creating ten big chances and averaging 1.7 key passes, 2.9 tackles, 2.5 clearances, 5.7 ball recoveries and 5.1 successful duels per game.

    Premier League Players: Most Tackles 23/24

    #

    Player

    Stat

    1.

    Joao Palhinha

    101

    2.

    Vinicius Souza

    90

    3.

    Joao Gomes

    68

    3.

    Emerson Palmieri

    68

    5.

    Pedro Porro

    67

    Source: Premier League

    Shaping into the kind of rounded player that thrives at the highest level, Porro would stake a claim for a spot in the Premier League’s team of the season, and should he continue to put him such stellar showings, leading Spurs back into the Champions League, it will be hard to ignore such efforts.

    He ranks among the top 2% of full-backs across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for assists, the top 5% for shot-creating actions, the top 17% for passes attempted, the top 12% for tackles and the top 2% for blocks made per 90, as per FBref, and has attracted the interest of Manchester City, who was on the club’s books as a youngster.

    There is a real sense that Porro is starting to grow into the player that captured Levy’s attention over one year ago, and given that Tottenham tagged the Spain international at £100m in January to dissuade Pep Guardiola’s lucrative outfit from moving ahead to re-sign the player, it’s clear that he is among the most coveted assets.

    Too often throughout the recent past have Tottenham’s travails been littered with missteps and wistful memories of near achievements. That’s changing under Postecoglou.

    The dawn has barely broken, the first step of sunlight painting N17 in a new, luminous glow, but the cogs appear to be meshing together and now there is belief from the Spurs support that this craggy-faced Australian can lead the club to new heights.

    There is a way to go before such lofty ambitions become something tangible but with stars such as Porro gracing the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, this might just be the new era fans have dreamt of for many years.

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