It may have taken around 18 months and a new manager to resolve, but it certainly seems like Tottenham Hotspur have finally filled the void left behind by industrious fan-favourite Mousa Dembele.
The Belgian powerhouse swapped north London for the Chinese Super League back in January 2019 and Mauricio Pochettino’s failure to secure a viable replacement could well have cost him his job just ten months later.
Dembele’s form during the 2015/16 season was arguably his best in a Spurs shirt as he averaged a whopping 3.6 tackles, 2.9 dribbles and 1.9 interceptions per game in the Premier League, via WhoScored.
And his absence was most felt during the Champions League final where Pochettino selected Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks in a midfield two, neither managing above a 6.6 rating on SofaScore.
Whilst the likes of Jordan Henderson, Gigi Wijnaldum and Fabinho ran the show for Liverpool.
But now it appears as if Jose Mourinho has made amends by finding a like-for-like lynchpin fit to lace the 33-year-old’s boots and that much was proven once again on Wednesday evening as summer signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg put in a masterclass against Harry Kane’s England.
Having lasted 88 minutes on the pitch, the £15m arrival made 78 passes at an accuracy rate of 93%, won 62.5% of his ground duels, recorded three tackles and even chimed in with one successful dribble attempt, per SofaScore.
Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet lauded Hojbjerg’s showing post-game giving him four marks out of five, they said: “Is finding the necessary tactical discipline for the role of defensive anchor. Very strong in his duels and is never afraid to play the ball forward.”
The £22.5m-rated star’s defensive discipline will have undoubtedly improved thanks to the stewardship of Mourinho but it also goes to show he can be relied upon as much as Dembele was under Pochettino.
In 166 appearances under the Argentine, Dembele never once received a red card despite picking up 22 yellows, via Transfermarkt, which only goes to show his impressive control in the midst of intense matches.
Spurs finally have the anchorman they’ve been craving for the best part of two seasons.
AND in other news, Spurs star must reinvent himself or become Mourinho’s next De Bruyne…