Fernando Llorente has been the subject of plenty of criticism throughout his time at Tottenham.
There’s a perception that the Spaniard has struggled as Harry Kane’s back-up, but this season his stats are proving otherwise.
He scored just one goal in 16 appearances for Tottenham last season – the majority of which were off the bench – and there were plenty of groans as he failed to score as Spurs toiled against Fulham and Crystal Palace in recent weeks, but he has underlined his value since Kane was ruled out with an ankle injury.
Goals & assists
Given a rare run in the team in the absence of Kane in recent weeks, Llorente has stepped up and has one of the best goals and assists per minute ratios in Europe.
Granted that’s with a much smaller sample size than the majority of players, but a goal or assist every 63 minutes shows he’s delivering at present.
The former Juventus man has scored seven goals and provided four assists so far this season, having played just 695 minutes.
Even if you take away the hat-trick he scored in Spurs’ 7-0 mauling of Tranmere, he still has a more than respectable average of a goal or assist every 77.5 minutes.
As a reference point, Kane has 20 goals and six assists in 2,564 minutes, which averages at one per 98.6 minutes.
Son Heung-min, meanwhile, averages a goal or assist every 86.8 minutes, with 16 goals and nine assists in 2,169 minutes.
— Spurs Stat Man (@SpursStatMan) February 13, 2019
In the six appearances since Kane was sidelined, Llorente has contributed three goals and three assists, and each have been of crucial importance.
The goal he scored against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final took the tie to penalties, giving Tottenham a real chance of setting up a final against Man City. He was withdrawn before the shootout they went on to lose.
Since then, he assisted Son for a late equaliser against Watford before bagging himself the winner in the 87th minute.
And he linked up with Son again to provide the assist for the South Korean’s late winner against Newcastle.
In Tottenham’s most recent Premier League victory, against Leicester, Llorente created Christian Eriksen’s goal which saw the North Londoners go 2-0 in front after being on the back foot for a long spell.
He’s had a decisive contribution in each of Spurs last three league wins, which have been vital in keeping the pace with City and Liverpool at the top.
In Europe, he scored the third against Dortmund, despite only coming on in the 84th minute – a goal that has given Tottenham a brilliant chance of reaching the quarter-finals.