The Jose Mourinho revolution is underway at Spurs. With Gedson Fernandes already tied up, the Special One is now eyeing up a new target man to lead his line in the absence of Harry Kane.
Willian Jose - no relation to the Chelsea winger - is the prototypical Mourinho forward. Tall, a danger from set-pieces and capable with both feet, it’s easy to see why Jose likes Jose.
With Tottenham’s No. 9 shirt currently vacant, let’s dig a little deeper on the man who could take it.
Plenty of young footballers get loaned out, but Willian Jose’s early years were so busy that they read more like a concert tour than a striker’s career.
The Brazilian was purchased by Uruguayan side Deportivo Maldonado in 2011, who saw him more as a pawn who they could demand loan fees for each year, rather than a serious option for their squad. Jose lived out of a suitcase for a while, going to Sao Paulo in 2011, Gremio and Santos in 2013, Real Madrid in 2014, Zaragoza from 2014 to 2015 and then Las Palmas the following season.
He finally settled when Real Sociedad bought him permanently in 2016.
The Real deal
Quick trivia question: what does Willian Jose have in common with Jose Mourinho, other than their names? The answer is that they’re both former employees of Real Madrid - though the striker’s time at the Bernebeu was a little less illustrious than Mourinho’s.
As one of his seven loans, Willian moved to the Spanish capital in 2014 to pad out the reserves squad for the Galacticos. After a hat-trick for Real B against Recreativo de Huelva, he was called up to the A-Team and sat on the bench against Sociedad and Almeria. His one appearance for Los Blancos came when he replaced Casemiro - who Mourinho gave a debut to - before he was boxed back up and returned to Uruguay the following month. He's scored against Real Madrid since, but perhaps owing to the fact he only represented them once in the first team, he didn't hold back from a small celebration.
Jose has talked this season about his admiration of Karim Benzema, someone he believes to be the key to Real’s play. That perhaps reveals a little about how he sees his own role - Spurs fans will hope that his link-up play is as prolific.
Cast your mind back to the days before Jose Mourinho bought Romelu Lukaku for Manchester United. Back when Rom was an Everton player, the Toffees apparently enquired about Willian Jose either as a back-up to the Belgian, or a strike partner.
Steve Walsh, the man famously responsible for scouting Mahrez, Vardy and Kante for Leicester, was Everton’s Director of Football at the time. He apparently opened talks with Sociedad over the transfer but never followed through to bring the Brazilian to Goodison.
Willian Jose is a lesser-known name in La Liga, but even some of his teammates are more famous. Take the trio that play behind him - Martin Odegaard is on loan from Real Madrid, Mikel Oyazabal is wanted by City, apparently and Mikel Merino was a favourite of Rafa Benitez at Newcastle before he was poached.
Another big name in San Sebastian is 20-year-old Sweden hitman Alexander Isak, inevitably dubbed “The Next Zlatan” at one point, and signed from Borussia Dortmund last summer. Jose’s been keeping the 6’3 signing out of the side on a regular basis.
He’s perhaps slipped under the radar this season - given Odegaard’s phenomenal performances - but he’s impressed in his link-up with the flashier stars. In fact, he’s Sociedad’s top scorer.
Please release fee
It’s a La Liga custom for sides to give their players release fees - some of them turn out to be a steal, some extortionate, nine-digit figures to mark territory.
Willian Jose’s release clause apparently sits at €70m. It’s extremely improbable however that the 28-year-old’s fee will be triggered, with Tottenham and Sociedad more likely to thrash out a deal for about £20m. Spurs reportedly don’t have a lot of cash to spend in the January window, so they won’t want to spend much more than that on a Plan B to Harry Kane.
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