Midfielders are the heartbeat of any side. A good midfield protects the defence and feeds the attack. You can’t go anywhere without a functional midfield. Yesterday’s failings at the King Power highlighted the notion that Spurs’ midfield has been anything but functional for far too long, and the bleak prognosis regarding Rodrigo Bentancur’s injury on top of Yves Bissouma’s absence makes matters in this department so bleak that we face the prospect of facing AC Milan with a pivot of Ollie Skipp and Pape Sarr.
Despite all the other factors contributing to our dysfunction as a side since 2017ish – our failure to replace Kyle Walker at right-back, find another Danny Rose of 16/17, the same with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, and the decline of Hugo Lloris, I can’t help but think the vast majority of this side’s malaise has to do with the loss of the powerful midfield triumvirate of Dembele/Wanyama/Eriksen, none of whom have really been replaced either.
We’ve had to do with square pegs in round holes all over the pitch since breaking up that side, but that midfield trio was really something. Even Eric Dier was great in there too, and who knows, we may see him in the middle for a spell given our current injuries, but despite his showing yesterday, he seems too indispensable for our back three to try this out.
On the whole, we used to have one of, if not the best, midfield in the league 6 years ago and now you can’t even compare our engine room to that of the elite. That said, Rodrigo Bentancur has been exceptional since signing, and I still maintain that Bissouma will come good, but I still think we need another dimension in there, even when everyone if fully fit.
Talk of creative midfielders gets dismissed immediately with shouts of “Oh, they won’t fit in Conte’s system”. And that may be right, but how an attacking one fits in the system is Conte’s problem to deal with and I’m sure it’s one he wants, and if that’s what he wants, I hope that’s what he gets.
This question could be completely redundant if Conte leaves in the summer, of course, but irrespective of who is in charge, I do feel this is an area we can upgrade, as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, as much as I admire him, has his limitations on the ball and off it, and Skipp and Sarr are not up to it.
Personally, I would not be averse to signing another workman-like central player in the mould of Rodrigo de Paul or Sofyane Amrabat if the price were right come the summer, or a technician in the form of Marcelo Brozovic/Youri Tielemans. I would bite your hand off for James Maddison, even though he plays much higher up the pitch than those chaps and the question of “how he’d fit into a Conte” side may very well arise again.
These are all hypotheticals of course, but now more than ever before, serious questions are facing our engine room – now, with so many injuries, who would you like to see at the San Siro and beyond in the absence of Bentancur and Bissouma? Do you retain faith in Messrs Skipp and Sarr, or would you like to see Dier pushed out from defence to partner Hojbjerg once his European suspension ends? And, come the summer, would you like to see some reinforcements in this area?
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