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.