The way Guglielmo Vicario has come in at Tottenham Hotspur and immediately hit the ground running has been nothing short of impressive.
Proving a major upgrade on the ageing Hugo Lloris, who has been a fine servant for Spurs over the years, the Italian has stamped his mark emphatically through his exceptional performances so far.
Costing a very reasonable £17 million from Empoli, he’s been one of many standouts in Ange Postecoglou’s exciting, new-look side, and a player who fits in brilliantly to the Aussie’s philosophy.
Excelling between the posts, plus a great presence with his leadership, constant motivation and regular communication, it’s been a joy to watch him slot in so seamlessly.
Handling the pressure and weight of expectation that comes with such a high-profile move to the Premier League, the talented net custodian has hardly put a foot wrong on his way to keeping two clean sheets.
A brilliant shot-stopper and so rapid at reading the intentions of his adversaries, this has been a key cornerstone of his success. His razor sharp reflexes and reactions have also been a massive asset, allowing him to get down, across and upwards effectively to produce some scintillating stops.
Able to explode from his powerful base in a range of directions, this, in combination with his awareness and long arms and legs to make the goal seem smaller, has elevated his value from both open-play and penalties.
The rangy and athletic Italian international, who stands at a towering 193cm, has also been solid when dealing with crosses and set-pieces, where his judgement and decision making has been largely sound to combat threats. Displaying a good command of his area and confidence when coming off his line, the way he backs himself with authority and conviction is another huge bonus.
Assertive and never afraid to rush out of his area to clear danger or stop attacks before they can develop, this proactive approach usually serves him well even though he can get caught out on occasion.
The 26-year-old’s comfort operating outside his box and under pressure extends over nicely to his work in possession, for his composure, resistance to pressure and technical ability ensure he’s a major weapon with the ball at his feet.
Relishing provoking opposition pressure before then using his polished distribution to beat the press, facilitate third man combinations or switch the angle of attacks, his clarity and capacity to execute when under duress is so vital.
Suiting Postecoglou’s defined style excellently, the two-footed maestro is also valuable in terms of opening up angles, helping form overloads and positional superiorities and at giving options to support the ball holder.
Especially efficient over shorter distances, which suits Spurs’ plans perfectly, watch for him to continue to shine within this high risk, high reward framework deployed by Ange, who doesn’t mind seeing mistakes as long as the players are adhering to his system.
“This is our way of playing football from the back. We have to take risks; we play from the back to move the third man. We follow our coach’s instructions,” Vicario insisted. “After the match against Arsenal I was quite satisfied, the most important thing was to show everyone who we are. I think we deserved something more because we have played excellent football.”
The man who idolises Gianluigi Buffon and is piling the heat on current Italian first-choice at international level in Gianluigi Donnarumma, Vicario continues to prove what an elite operator he is.
Smart, physical, technically proficient and adapting to life wonderfully in North London, it’s little wonder why he’s drawing praise from all corners courtesy of his tremendous output.
“It was probably the priority position when I came in because at the time it looked like Hugo was moving on and there was a need for a new starting goalkeeper,” Postecoglou said. “You get presented with some options and I just really liked Vic from the start in terms of the characteristics he has as a goalkeeper – his agility, his demeanour, his character.
“Then I spoke to him and he’s just such an infectious personality. He was so determined and he wanted to come to Tottenham and prove himself at the next level. If you look at his career, he hasn’t had a long time at the top level, similar to Micky van de Ven and a couple of others. I like players who have worked their way up from a low level very quickly because it shows that they adapt very quickly, but also that they’re coachable, that they learn, and you look at Vic, and he’s taken big steps very, very quickly and he’s been absolutely outstanding for us in the first six or seven games.
“He’s been a really strong influence on the field in the big moments when we’ve needed him and he comes in every day and wants to improve, and that’s exactly what we need.”
Having set an exemplary standard to kick-off his Spurs career, now the challenge will be maintaining his level for his high-flying team.
One of many who has brought new life to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this crusade, the modern and supremely gifted Vicario looks set for a long and distinguished career between the posts at Spurs.
Although it’s still early days, it’s hard not to get excited about what the future holds for both he and his teammates under the tutelage of their masterful new manager – especially given their struggles in recent years.
Exciting times most definitely seem to be ahead for Vicario and all associated with Spurs.