Tottenham overlooked Khvicha Kvaratskhelia at Rubin Kazan due to average stats - Leonid Slutsky
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was very upset to miss out on a move to the Premier League after his first season at Rubin Kazan when Tottenham decided against a move, says Leonid Slutsky.
The Russian coached the now-Napoli star for three seasons at the club and confirmed that there was heavy interest in the then-teenager after the first, but Tottenham were put off by his average statistics and doubted whether he could help the first team immediately.
Now 21, the Georgian international, via a spell at Dinamo Batumi following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has ended up in Serie A where he is going from strength to strength, gaining a lot of attention for stand-out performances in the Champions League.
Detailing his development from a youngster who cried every time he was tackled into the attacking star he is now, Slutsky told Fabrizio Romano on the Here We Go podcast of the Spurs interest (28 September, 10min30sec): “After the first very successful season in Rubin there was a lot of gossip around him, and not only gossip, some clubs were really interested in him.
“But because of the price, he was not a cheap player. For me it was normal money but to be honest, for a young player only after his first season, he didn’t have fantastic statistics, it was only four goals and three assists.
“I think some clubs had a lot of doubt, especially clubs like Tottenham because they usually need players who will play in the starting XI immediately.
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“Each club had doubts about not fantastic statistics, maybe not good enough in defence.”
He went on (13min30sec): “After he didn’t go in the summer time, he really was upset”.
Spurs might not be obviously missing the talent of a rapidly-growing attacking force like Kvaratskhelia too much right now, considering they have Harry Kane flanked by Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski with Richarlison in reserve.
But had they taken a chance on the Georgian as a teenager two years ago it seems unlikely they would have needed to shell out £60million to Everton for the Brazilian this summer, and would surely be reaping the rewards of a much smaller investment.
With four goals and three assists over his first nine appearances for Luciano Spalletti’s side he has certainly hit the ground running in one of Europe’s top five leagues, and after performing so well in the eye-catching 4-1 win over Liverpool on 7 September it would be no surprise if Premier League sides were after him again before long.
In just 19 international appearances he has already scored 10 times as a 21-year-old, so the kid who saw football like “Disneyland” and was prevented from playing if he cried in Russia has come a long way in a short space of time.
Every side has a list of ones that got away, where the opportunity to pick up a player who goes on to become a global star when they were still relatively unknown is missed and Kvaratskhelia can be added to Tottenham’s for now.
But Antonio Conte would no doubt love to have him in his squad, and Daniel Levy may be bracing himself for the manager to request a far bigger fee is spent to belatedly bring him to the club in the coming months if his progression continues in the same direction.
In other Tottenham news, Djed Spence’s move to the club has already turned into a nightmare.