Moussa Sissoko has transformed himself from Tottenham Hotspur’s whipping boy into an integral lynchpin this season, but could the club have been spared of nearly two years of disappointment with a move for Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum?
Spurs supporters are well accustomed to hearing about players they came close to signing but eventually failed to bring to north London.
Reports claiming that Mauricio Pochettino personally declined the opportunity to sign a rumoured transfer target are becoming commonplace within the British media, but stories of that tone are not exclusively a recent phenomenon.
Indeed, there is evidence dating back to the 2016 transfer window which falls into the same bracket as recent failed pursuits.
Spurs were linked with a move for Georginio Wijnaldum in 2016 before the Holland international agreed to a £25 million switch to Anfield, and the player himself provided an insight into the events which preceded the transfer in 2018, as per PFA.com.
“I had a really good conversation with Pochettino but we didn’t come to an agreement. Not just me – Newcastle also didn’t come to an agreement with Tottenham.”
That Wijnaldum has revealed discussions with Pochettino were positive suggests Spurs were well in the race for his signature.
The 28-year-old midfielder’s decision to swap Tyneside for Merseyside forced Pochettino to consider alternative options and a £30 million deal for Sissoko was eventually concluded.
There are certainly similarities to be drawn between the playing styles of both players, although it must be said that Wijnaldum is technically superior and more reliable in the final-third, while Sissoko possesses a greater level of versatility and power.
Liverpool’s dynamic box-to-box midfielder has established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet under Jurgen Klopp within a squad which is stacked with fantastic options in central midfield, and that speaks volumes about how highly regarded he is at the club.
Sissoko is enjoying a comparable level of popularity at Spurs, but one cannot escape the feeling that he would be nothing more than a back-up player if Pochettino had the likes of Naby Keita, Fabinho, James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at his disposal.
The Argentine manager will be delighted with the turnaround Sissoko has enjoyed this season, however, with the benefit of hindsight, he might well be ruing Tottenham’s failure to beat Liverpool to Wijnaldum’s signature in the summer of 2016.