On August 29, the Premier League elite were limbering up for another enthralling transfer deadline day, when Tottenham Hotspur somewhat jumped the gun and swooped to sign Moussa Dembele. The club activated the £15m release clause in his contract at Fulham, forcing their way past the more desirable outfits of Real Madrid and Manchester United to secure the Belgian international’s signature.

Despite Dembele’s obvious potential, his reputation in mainstream circles was rather subdued, as if the platform at Craven Cottage didn’t do justice to his excellent skill set. His arrival at White Hart Lane drew the same concerned looks and surprised expressions akin to when Brendan Rodgers spent a similar fee acquiring Joe Allen.

However, the 25-year-old has spent the past two seasons gradually transforming into one of the most desirable deep-lying playmakers in modern football. He has slowly been shuffled from his natural position as a striker, deeper into the heart of midfield, where he flourished alongside Danny Murphy last season. The transition has been remarkable and has allowed Dembele to have a greater impact on games, despite the fact he is now further away from goal.

In a Tottenham midfield that has been depleted by the departures of influential duo Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart, Dembele has thrived along the spine of his new team. While he has been keen to distance himself from comparisons with the creative Croatian, there are certain traits that suggest the club have obtained a superior replacement.

Although Modric now plies his trade in La Liga – in surroundings far removed from the intensity of the Premier League – it’s still worth analysing their statistics this season. In a similar number of league appearances, both players have clocked up over 400 passes with Modric averaging 41.3 per game and Dembele 46.2. The accuracy rates are also particularly impressive with Dembele boasting a completion rate off 88.9% compared to Modric’s 86.6%.

The parallels continue when you notice that Modric has made 17 interceptions compared to Dembele’s 15, but the stark contrast occurs in the tackling department. Whereas Modric has made 16 successful tackles, Dembele has instigated nearly double, 30, which suggests the new man in North London is a better fit for the typically more combative midfields that epitomise English football.

This season has hailed the rise of the dominant box-to-box midfielder, with the likes of Marouane Fellani and Yaya Toure hauling their respective clubs up the table. In Dembele, Spurs have their very own midfield general, blessed with the energy levels of Chelsea’s Ramires and the composure of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere.

Without wanting to commit the crime of sensationalised reporting, Andre Villas-Boas now has the complete package at his disposal, a prized asset that every club in the league will rue not taking a gamble on. He is Mikel Arteta on steroids, Gareth Barry with pace and the player that Anderson should and may well one day become. The only real task for Spurs is to keep him away from the treatment table or he risks becoming just another unfulfilled talent in the club’s recent history.

Daniel Levy has come under fire for failing to provide better support for his new manager, most notably in the pursuit of Joao Moutinho in the summer. However, few can argue with his track record in the transfer market, with Moussa Dembele the latest name to be etched into his profitable portfolio of purchases. If he can repeat the same feats in January, a place in the top four looks even more likely than this time last season.

 

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  • Sean
    1 year ago

    I was enjoying this appraisal of a very good footballer until the Wilshire comment.

    Reply
  • SpursMan
    1 year ago

    Can you explain how this is the Premier League’s loss? Seeing as how Spurs are IN the Premier League?

    Or are you an Arsenal fan, trying to distract yourself from the cesspit your club has fallen into and so anything you can do to have a pop at Spurs is acceptable?

    Reply
  • dpac73
    1 year ago

    Chillax SpursMan. He meant Modric going to Madrid was ‘Premier League’s loss’and Dembele coming to Spurs is ‘Tottenham’s gain’. In fact he his saying Dembele could be better for Spurs than what Modric was.

    Reply
  • Nesto
    1 year ago

    Class player. He out-performed Modric last season as well. I like his honesty, you can rely on this guy to always put in a shift.

    Reply
  • spursguv
    1 year ago

    I like both of these players. Modric is a step up from Dembele a very skillful player who is capable of unlocking many doors with little effort. Dembele is still learning. He is a tremendous player too but at times he’d be far more effective if he passed earlier. Stats do not and cannot cover a lot of things in football. Both these players can decieve an opponent with a drop of the shoulder, tight turn or the slightest of touches. These sublime skills are never captured in stats but are what make the game worth watching. We have been blessed to have these players grace our team. It’s the Tottenham tradition to play this way.

    Reply
  • BOB
    1 year ago

    I do believe aswell if Dembele worked a little on a sharper quicker passes in to spaces.Combined with his dribbling strength and energy Modric would be nowhere near him he’d be scary He seem like the type who will improve aswell.

    Reply
  • Arlette
    1 year ago

    The problem with the stats is when did you take them ? Modric’s first year in Tott ? he was considered as a bad player in the first months… Is it a comparison in the same moment ? IT’S NOT THE SAME LEAGUE !!… In Spain Modric is one of the best tackler of the midfielders today… What do you compare ?

    Reply
  • Arlette
    1 year ago

    The only thing to see is that Tottenham is an increasing club until the last four years, every player is better… Sandro, Dawson, who were so horrible, are able today to do some good things. The problem with Real is that every player have problems, and the coach also.

    Reply

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