Date: 22nd May 2018 at 8:00pm
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I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the club have been linked with a long list of players with similar profiles to Mousa Dembele in the last few weeks.

It seems like the scouts have been tasked with looking for someone with almost identical traits to our no.19, and just in the last few days alone, we have seen an avalanche of names, some more well known than others.

Although you should never trust the word of  “Sky Sources”, Lille’s Yves Bissouma is said to be on the list of midfielders that include players like Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Heidara and Geoffrey Kondogbia that all have particular attributes. Holding midfielders with dribbling ability.

Mauricio Pochettino has been on record calling Mousa a “genius”, and I have said on more than a few occasions myself that he is unique in what he brings to the team.

Yet, despite all that he offers the team, I really don’t think the club should be going after a direct replacement if the 30-year-old does leave the club this summer.

Teams evolve, and players move on. The fear, of course, is that when the dynamic changes, the team could be adversely impacted, and we become less effective. However, it’s not as though we have failed to cope without the Belgian in the past.

Even early last season, when he missed a month with an ankle injury, we won all four games in the league without him, including the 4-1 triumph over Liverpool.

That is not to diminish his contribution to the side, but it does show that other solutions can be found. We could find a player with the exact same skillset this summer, but it doesn’t mean he would be as effective.

There is a case to be made that we could even improve with a different type of player in the holding midfield role. Dembele’s lack of goals and assists has been well documented despite what he offers the team in other areas.

A deep-lying playmaker providing us with greater control of possession in the middle of the pitch could be an alternative option. Sometimes improvements are made through necessity, and this could be one of those moments.

If Mousa does stay, I would be more than happy to keep him, but the club will have to move on if he decides to leave. I’m ok with that, and I’m actually intrigued by the possible changes to the team’s setup that could result. So, to respond to the question in the title, my answer would be ‘no.’

Let’s find the best player to fulfil the role in our first team, rather than seeking a like-for-like substitute who could prove to be a pale imitation of what we already have.


38 Replies to “Should Tottenham Really Be Trying To Unearth the New Dembele?”

  • Agree that we should look at other solutions, perhaps 4 3 3 with Dele and Christian playing deeper? With Son, Lucas (and Bale?) options either side of Harry

  • Poch has a history of playing an out and out DM and a CM with defensive qualities. At Southampton he had Wana and Schneiderlin. When he first joined us he used Capoue with Bentaleb. Last season it was Dembele and Wana. This season it has been mainly Dembele with Dier.

    I have always like this as it really gives the team a spine. With two flying wing backs and 4 attacking players with pace, agility and skill I personally think it’s our best bet for silverware.

    If we play with a DM and a CM like Winks we do look flaky.

    The way around it is going 433. Have the tempo setter in the middle of the two more defensive players. Then have Alli, and player like Pulisic alongside Kane.

  • Dembele is unique. At his best, we’ll never again see, let alone buy or develop, another player like him.
    So we have to go for the deep lying creative midfielder ..a playmaker, if you like, who can free up Eriksen, the flanks and the forwards in a completely different way to Dembele’s methods. I don’t agree we need two DMs, and I tend not to think of Dembele as one. Nor do I think he’s a midfield creator. Like I said, he is unique ..but lately, his over-protection of the ball yet losing it, his turns like a slow oversized tanker, and his inability to run with the ball, brushing off opponents with ease like he used to, has stifled rather than assisted our attacking play.
    We are really short of actual ‘pass-spotting’ ability in the deep midfield. Dier, who should always be our first choice DM, has had a blip recently with his distribution, but he’ll come good again. Winksie’s progress has been halted by injury, but again he may well have the potential to be a deep lying midfield general, rather than just another DM. Wanyama, if he stays, should be cover only, as his distribution is not up to standard, plus he’s not the midfield enforcer he once was ..if we ever needed someone like that (bearing in mind that players like Palacios, Sandro, and Zokora fell by the wayside quickly). Eriksen is our only real creator, and he’s more final third (he shouldn’t have to come back to play more centrally), while Alli (like Dembele) is unique. A ghost of a no. 10 who can create, score and pass from all angles, and yet does not remotely resemble the final third creators of the top PL clubs DeBruyne, Hazard, Ozul, Firminho, Silva, Fabregas etc.. I’m sure Alli, Eriksen, not to mention Kane and the forwards, would thrive if we now switched to top class playmaker from deep (but where can we find him, that’s the question).

    • I agree we should look more for an alternative type of MFer rather than a clone of Dembele. We do lack a playmaker who can control the pace of the game make the telling pass and contribute with assists and the odd goal, this lack becomes most apparent against the “bus parkers” when we go side to side and back often without somebody either surging forward or playing the defence splitting pass. Dembele for all his attributes lacks pace, does not see or play the killer pass, or assist in or score enough goals. The problem is the type of player we want are scarce and consequently very expensive. Incidentally the list somebody put up included Ozil who I think due to his attitude and work rate is the most over rated MFer in the PL.

  • Real Deal hits on a great point. Poch plays with a DM and a defensively minded CM in his setup with “flying full-backs”. The problem has become that there is nothing flying about Davies and Trips. When we had Walker and Rose flying up the wings, it was their sheer pace that meant the opposition would double up on them leaving our guys in the middle to find space. That has stopped this season exposing Dier and Dembele who have been caught in possession or misplaced passes more.

    It’s a big question whether Poch tries to reset the role of the full-backs to what it was before. Otherwise if the full backs are more defensively minded then I see no issue with Eriksen and Dele playing ahead of a “holder” like Dier or Wanyama. That could release Winks to work more with Eriksen and allow us to introduce wider forwards like Liverpool play with Mane and Salah.

    Good article though. If Dembele wants to stay then I’m OK with that. If he leaves then we shouldn’t try to find like fo like replacements. The only listed that I know is Doucourt and he is nothing like Dembele in my opinion. Personally, I still think that Ruben Neves is the right player for Spurs long term. He plays that position like Carrick used to.

  • Even when rose and walker were playing the 4231 set up with two dm’s didn’t bring anymore success than it has now. It was the 352 formation that made Walker and rose unplayable at times. I don’t like the two dm’s and the over reliance on the FB to give width. City play with Fernandino as the holding mid with Deybruyne and silva owning the middle of the park. With two speedy wide attackers as the main wide outlets. It’s not complicated and it works so why don’t spurs play that way? MP has used 433twice from my memory both times it was due to injury. The funny thing is spurs won both games and looked good one of the games was vs city spurs won 2-0 inflicting peps 1st prem defeat. I think MP has something against 433, maybe he thinks he has found a way to defeat it.

  • Palmover – formations are fluid though. If Dier drops into the back-line then we’ve moved to 5 at the back with flying full-backs. If Eriksen drops into centre mid for 10 minutes leaving Son and Dele up with Kane then we’ve found a 4-3-3 system. On paper it will still look like a 4-2-3-1. Ironically, when we beat Liverpool early in the season it was a midfield 3 of Winks, Dele and Eriksen that bossed that game. All the others were injured from memory.

    Saying that, I do hope that Poch can get back to starting some of the games with 3 centre halves. Foyth has shown already that he has so much ability on the ball and can hopefully step into the void left by Toby. By the time we got to the FA Cup semi-final we had played 20 consecutive games in a 4-2-3-1 and Mourinho just negated it. You have to have a Plan B and switching between the 2 systems based on the opposition is a good way forward.

  • I’m not fussed whether it’s Dembele himself or a clone of the man. Or, if it’s Harry Winks (Google him) in that position.

    Put it this way, if they are either a player that chooses to dribble around the same player 3 times in the same area of the park, before releasing the ball (Mousa) or, one that likes to play quick one or two touch, progressive passing around the place… as long as the football enentually ends up in the back of the opponents net, I don’t really care.

  • muttley…in your post you said Moaninio negated our 4-2-3-1 system/set up in the FA Cup semi-final, personally I do not believe that he did, in my opinion, what I say was that MU had the luck, 3 incidences come to mind (a)Pogba’s tackle, to me a foul, on Dembele that lead to Sanchez’s goal (b) Valencia’s non sending off tackle against Deli, a red all day long (c) Dier’s shot hitting the post. I still thought we were the better team overall and just didn’t have that bit of luck on the day, which Moaninio/MU did. COYS

  • All of the above is interesting. Obviously we won’t know if our formation will be reinforced, left as it is, or changed, until the TW is over …. and that is something to look forward to. Pochettino is very comitted to his own ideas on the type of player he wants and how the game should be played. The hope now is that, with the progress he has made so far, he will now work out who he needs and how to play to take us that little bit further. His record in the PL gives me every confidence that he will.

  • Geofspurs…couldn’t agree more, to further your post what the hell do we know? yes we there are great and not so good opinions, which makes things very interesting, but basically who knows, we will all find out after the TW closes. Then the debate/argument’s will start again. lol. COYS

  • Muttley, It’s not the formation that is the problem, it’s player selection. The example you used vs pool (i thought spurs played 3cb’s that game) is perfect look at that mid 3 winks, ali and ce. it’s fluid. Vs R.M spurs played winks, ce, and sisoko and the midfield flowed. Dier, Dembele and Wanyama should not play together they should be played with a creative player CE or dele.

  • PY …. It’s kinda fun to watch on-going discussions and arguments about things that will probably never happen. As you say, after the TW it all has meaning!

  • I don’t really think you ever find the “new” anybody. Each player is different and will continue to be unless someone starts cloning them. Winks has already shown its possible to play our system with a completely different type of player to Dembele. The only thing that clearly doesn’t work is two DMs, the few occasions we’ve tried playing Dier and Wanyama together it hasn’t worked.

  • PompeyYid – in the semi-final, I don’t disagree with you on the 3 incidences. What I would say that apart from Dier hitting the upright we created nothing in the second half when we should have shown way more. Mourinho surely should get some credit for that. He targeted our full back area and nullified Dembele and Eriksen as much as he could. Seen it before many times when we have a bad game.

    As you’re implying. Mourinho still needed a healthy dose of the football gods and bottling referees to get over the finish line but he did his homework and that wasn’t difficult with Poch becoming so predictable in the second half of the season. Most of the time other teams don’t have the resources to deal with it, but the better teams always will.

  • Agree with your last post Muttley. When Allegri said ‘Spurs always give you a chance.” He was right, the style of play always trying to control the game and playing a high line does give the opposition good goal scoring opportunities on the counter, even the lessor teams get these chances but are not as good as the top teams at scoring them. Mp is as good as any coach, however, he is not shrewd/tactical in his approach. He has one approach based on hard training, loyalty and not questioning him.

  • Teams that always try to play winning football will give the opposition a chance …. to dare is to do. Personally, I’ve no problem at all with the way Spurs play and love the fact that we ‘dare to do’!

  • We such a high line i dont think we need to say we could play 4 3 3 or 4 2 3 1. We saw last season that Eriksen is the freedom player. He roams and goes were he is needed and effective which often saw him drop deeper at times. As our defence push up high all midfielders and offensive players can rotate but MP does like at least one of the players to be a DM and take responsibility at being the most deepest player when we play from the back and there is space between back line and midfield, before we have pushed up, and at the moment that is Dier or Wanyama. We can still afford to lose Dembele and replace him with a player that can accommodate Dier and Wanyama, be the creative, retaining midfielder. Dembele is doing a Toby, going for the best big contract due to his age. I dont think we can hold on to players that hit 28 plus because they want a big contract. Rose is feeling it, walker did, now toby and dembele all in their late twenties heading towards the latter part of their career. If a club comes in who wins things and offers big money most of them will go because they probably feel our project isnt going to blossom just yet and by the time it does it will be too late for them. Unless they are really happy and dont want to move homes and change i expect these type of players to seek one last big contract or go to a club that is winning stuff. Dembele is inconsistent, injury prone and risky to give him massive pay out, a younger player makes more sense. Its not that he has given us a consistent performance. In fact we could havecdonecwith him scoring and creating more in tight games. Its time for a change and when we do start winning trophies and we can pay more the older players will stay, its just not right now.

  • Talking about movement across the park …. is it my imagination or does Harry stay nearer the centre of the box in the last few months than he has done before?

  • William Carvalho from Sporting – about time he made a big move somewhere – partner Dier/Dembele.

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