Anderlecht winger Andy Najar demonstrated just why Tottenham Hotspur are reported to be so keen on his signature on Wednesday night, with a standout performance in the club’s Champions League clash against Group D rivals Arsenal.
The Honduras international opened the scoring 20 minutes before the end when he headed in teammate Dennis Praet's cross and, though the Belgian champions would suffer heartbreak in the final stages when the visitors staged a dramatic comeback to win 2-1, his speed and skill on the right flank were clear for all to see.
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Rumoured to be preparing a £4 million bid for the winter transfer window, Tottenham in fact have a long-running connection to Najar, having hosted him for a training stint in north London towards the end of 2011.
Then just an MLS-based teenager, who had burst into the scene with local side D.C. United, the promising speedster spent two weeks with the club’s first-team squad, and still credits his time learning from the likes of Gareth Bale as being pivotal towards his development.
‘I learned a lot from him [Bale],’ he told DH.be earlier this month. ‘He’s super professional. He’s so open and friendly, always talking with all the guys. He gave a lot of great advice.
‘I was also impressed by Rafael Van der Vaart. Just watching his fantastic left foot in action helped my progression.
‘Those two weeks allowed me to experience European football and helped ease my transition to Anderlecht.’
Aged 21, Najar was linked to various Premier League clubs following his time in England, including Arsenal, Newcastle United and Spurs themselves, before completing a $3 million move to Anderlecht at the start of 2013.
Making 20 league appearances during the club’s 2013-14 title-winning campaign, the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year was once again linked with a switch to the White Hart Lane before heading off to the World Cup, where he impressed in his two outings, but instead opted to put pen to paper on a new deal until 2018 with the Belgian outfit.
Speculation surrounding his future has persisted, nevertheless, and his recent showings both in the Pro League and in Europe could mean there is some serious competition for his services once the winter market opens.
Najar has in fact spent most of his time at right-back with Anderlecht but has often reiterated his desire to feature further up the pitch, where he first began his career in the States, and, with fellow MLS Homegrown product DeAndre Yedlin arriving to compete for a spot at Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino no doubt envisages using him in his preferred spot.
He certainly showed against Arsenal that he deserves to play in a more advanced role and, if he continues to progress towards fulfilling his enormous potential over the next few months, then the club should have no hesitation in making an approach at the first chance.