Tottenham Hotspur

Why Tottenham want to sign Brennan Johnson

Reasons Why Tottenham want to sign Brennan Johnson

First he was linked with Aston Villa, then Brentford saw a bid rejected, now Tottenham Hotspur are hot on his heels: Brennan Johnson is certainly a man in demand this summer.

The Welshman’s rise over the past few seasons has been some watch. He won the EFL Championship Player of the Season award in 2022 as he helped power Nottingham Forest to the Premier League, scoring 18 goals and assisting 10 in Steve Cooper’s attack-minded setup.

He then took to the top flight like a duck to water despite Forest modifying their approach significantly – abandoning a free-flowing attacking style for a smarter, more solid counter-attacking approach – and he scored 8, assisted 3 and played a big part in the club’s survival.

Now, all of a sudden, talks over a near-£50 million transfer have accelerated ahead of deadline day. It sounds like a lot, but when you consider his age (22), his attributes and what he’s shown in two distinctly different seasons, perhaps it should come as no surprise.

His major asset – and the reason he’s being talked about in such pricey terms – is his speed; he is absolutely rapid and that never comes cheap. It underpins everything he does and has defined his game over the last two seasons, opening up opportunities that simply don’t exist for others.

At Premier League level Forest have played very reactively, last season averaging the lowest possession per game (37.2%) in the division. For most of the campaign they sank into a deep block, regained the ball and then looked for one pass out to Morgan Gibbs-White or Brennan Johnson on the counter-attack, who could switch them from defence to attack in an instant.

Johnson’s ability to receive the ball either in stride and carry it, or chase onto a longer pass over the top, caused plenty of teams big problems. Once he was gone he couldn’t be caught; he’d make it all the way to the opposing penalty box before shooting or laying it off, usually unimpeded.

His ball-striking technique is clean, making his shots powerful and his passes and crosses well-weighted. Playing on the right flank as a right footer gave him consistently good angles to deliver square passes, which Taiwo Awoniyi and Gibbs-White lapped up.

The year before, in the Championship, Forest had more possession (50.2% average share) and were able to move the ball through the thirds without him if need be. That allowed Johnson to pick and choose his movements, often getting on the end of moves rather than starting them from deep.

In fact, he developed a bit of a signature goal: Forest would move the ball wide and then cross early, aiming for the “corridor of uncertainty” between the goalkeeper and the defensive line. Johnson’s natural timing of runs and incredible quickness often saw him breach the space and convert the finish.

Add to that his penchant for a scrappy back-post finish, sweeping up loose balls, and a certain prowess from the penalty spot…you’ve got a good finisher from multiple positions and angles whose sheer speed often earns him the space needed to take shots.

That shortlist of qualities – speed, ability to create space for shots, good ball-striking and good finishing – are worth a lot. Like, a lot. It’s the toolkit of a player who can change a game in an instant, or one who may be predictable, but is unstoppable regardless.

From a Tottenham perspective, Ange Postecoglu likely sees value in both of Johnson’s very different campaigns. His Championship year aligns most closely with what we’ve seen from Spurs’ possession-dominant play so far, and it’s easy to see him slotting in either on the right or up front. Meanwhile, his Premier League campaign showcases a dangerous counter-attacking ability that could be a game-breaker against fellow top sides.

Pursuing Johnson also sends a signal that Postecoglu isn’t simply willing to roll with a Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-Min trio in the post-Harry Kane world; he wants more, he wants options, he wants competition to keep the stars on their toes.

Perhaps Richarlison’s stuttering performances in front of goal to begin the season have weighed in on this decision too, but Johnson’s style is one that Postecoglu appreciates and has always coveted regardless. Should Spurs pull off the deal, it’ll be a fantastic fit.

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