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After appearing in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at West Ham United, Son Heung-min has now made 400 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur.

It’s a landmark achievement for a player who sits 16th on the list of all-time appearance makers for Spurs.

That Son, the Tottenham captain, is a club legend is beyond doubt — but what about a Premier League one?

Because he’s never been part of a title-winning team and not a title-challenging one for some time, Son tends not to really be in those conversations. But based on the numbers alone, this deserves some reconsideration and his latest appearance milestone feels like a good time for it.

First, as the table below demonstrates, Son’s goals and assists numbers since he arrived in the Premier League nine years ago are exceptionally high.

The only players with a higher total than his 178 (118 goals and 60 assists) are Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah. Kevin De Bruyne, who joined Manchester City the same summer Son arrived in England, is one place below. All three of those players are bona fide Premier League legends.

Naturally, in this time period, Son has made more appearances than most of the other players in this list but that too speaks to his longevity.

This is now Son’s ninth season in England and he’s scored at least 10 Premier League goals in every one apart from a tricky first campaign. He jointly won the Golden Boot with Salah in the 2021-22 season, scoring 23 times, and has twice (potentially thrice by the end of this season) posted double figures for both goals and assists.

Son’s longevity is also demonstrated by the list of players who have assisted his Premier League goals, spanning various different periods in Spurs’ recent history.

Top of the list, naturally, is Kane — he and Son have set up more goals for one another than any other duo in Premier League history.

Son has broken other Premier League records, too. For instance, he has scored the most goals with his weaker foot in the division’s history.

Player

  

PL goals with weaker foot

  

Son Heung-min

46

Harry Kane

41

Robin van Persie

39

Sergio Aguero

34

Romelu Lukaku

33

Jamie Vardy

33

Thierry Henry

31

Andrew Cole

31

Son’s two-footedness speaks to his dedication to honing his craft when growing up, and his commitment to maintaining that level ever since. Son is so good with his left foot that it feels misguided to describe it as a “weaker” foot.

Even if you limited his best Premier League goals to ones scored with his left, you’d still have an exceptional highlights reel: like the dribble and finish against Chelsea at Wembley in 2018, the curler away at Leicester a month later, and the spectacular strike against the same opponents at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium two years ago.

That last one was so good that it prompted Son’s then manager Antonio Conte to ask him afterwards whether he preferred using his right or his left foot.

Rafael van der Vaart, his former team-mate at Hamburg and fellow Spurs favourite, said something similar to The Athletic in 2020: “I think he doesn’t even know if he’s right or left-footed.”

As well as two-footedness, Son often leads the way for overperformance when it comes to actual goals scored compared to expected goals (xG).

What this essentially means is that Son’s finishing is far in excess of what would be considered normal. He has accounted for four of the 20 biggest overperformances in a Premier League season since he arrived. On two occasions, he scored more than seven goals more than would have been expected based on the quality of the chances that he had.

In total, Son’s xG overperformance of 35.2 (turning 82.8 xG into 118 actual goals) since joining the Premier League is beaten by only one player: his former team-mate Kane with 36.1.

Like any great Premier League player, Son has evolved in the near-decade since his arrival. Originally more of a wide forward with an eye for goal, he is now primarily a central striker and one of the deadliest finishers in the division.

Looking at the numbers below, we can see that he takes fewer touches and takes players on less than he did when he first joined, while his chance creation has improved in the last few years.

Looking at his shot maps, he is taking his shots closer to goal than ever before and at a slightly lower rate than in his first few seasons.

Maybe it won’t be until he stops playing that Son is properly appreciated by the wider footballing public but whenever he does finally retire, it’ll surely be clear that his achievements in the Premier League put him right up there with the division’s best.

For now, though, it’s 400 Tottenham appearances for Son and after recovering from a tricky season last year, he shows no signs of slowing down.

(Top photo: Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)



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