This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Moussa Sissoko appears to be an option for Tottenham Hotspur at right-back.
A London Evening Standard report claims that Kyle Walker-Peters has lost his battle to be fit for the encounter with Arsenal in the north London derby this weekend.
Kieran Trippier, of course, has been sold to Atletico Madrid; Juan Foyth is injured; Aurier is said to be expendable.
And Mauricio Pochettino has been left with a clear decision: Play Sissoko at right-back or throw Serge Aurier into the starting XI for the first time this season.
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The France international filled in on the flank after Walker-Peters was injured against the Magpies but, really, Spurs shouldn’t be considering this as a legitimate option.
Now, of course, Sissoko is an excellent footballer. He has developed really well at Tottenham since his move from Newcastle United, having initially been played as a right winger. Now a central midfielder, he is a dynamic, hard-running presence who thrives on the transition.
What he is not is a defender.
Per WhoScored, Sissoko makes an average of 0.7 tackles per game in the Premier League, which is just fine for a defender. He concedes one foul and is dribbled past on 0.3 occasions per game; again, those statistics are fine.
Offensively, though, he is dispossessed 1.3 times per game and makes one unsuccessful touch per game.
The statistics don’t tell you that Sissoko regularly passes inaccurately too, leaving the ball slightly behind the player he is aiming for, or slightly ahead, even if, in the eyes of the stats, it does reach its target.
That’s an issue at right-back.
If he is to drive forward as he does in midfield, he will have to gallop back, too, or he will have to ensure that his distribution is perfect.
He cannot dribble as he does usually, either, regularly pushing the ball ahead of him, even looking to poke it around the opposition before sprinting past them.
At a base level, Sissoko would have to completely alter the way he plays to have any chance of making a success of being a defender.
Pochettino should start Aurier instead; at least he has experience of playing as a defender.