Nabil Bentaleb plays a vital role for Spurs, having quickly shot to the first team. However, just how important is Bentaleb to Spurs?
In this great era of modern football, loyal and committed players are a rare and refreshing sight. Bentaleb currently appears to be one of those players, who will put his body on the line for the shirt; week in, week out. He has quickly become a fan favourite, mainly due to the fact he was developed in Tottenham’s Academy, but also because of his respect and devotion to the club. Every goal his team concedes, or every time he loses the ball by mistake, is like a shot to his heart. Many players fail to appreciate how much a game of football means to the fans; instead, the pound signs blind their very eyes. Bentaleb however, is not one of that sort.
It’s all very well being loyal, but if Nabil Bentaleb is to play a vital role, he must be technically and physically able to compete in the Premier League. So far, he really has shown himself as comfortable and mature for such a young midfielder. With a passing completion rate of 87%, Bentaleb ensures that when Spurs do win the ball back, they retain possession and counter if possible. Couple this statistic with 53% of average duels won, and it simply extends the view that Bentaleb could really be something special in the years to come, as he is already a decent Premier League player.
Critically, Bentaleb needs a good partner to be able to carry out his role effectively. Last year’s partnership with Ryan Mason was a strong and hardworking bond, and seemed to be quite effective. But, Mason became injured towards the end of the season; a worrying sight for many Spurs fans. There’s no doubt that he’ll recover and be ready for the new season, but, it illustrates the need for Bentaleb to be able to gel with other midfielders. Mousa Dembélé could be a good partner with Bentaleb, as they both are able to attack and defend; Dembélé arguably better at the former, though. Dembélé brings a little more strength and experience, which would certainly boost Bentaleb’s game.
At just 20 years of age, Bentaleb is yet to reach his peak. If Spurs truly want to challenge for the Champions League, they’ll need to keep hold of their best players instead of flogging them. Bentaleb is currently bound to be one of those top players and must be closely guarded from any transfer bid. Bentaleb and Mason have a tight partnership going, and to disrupt this by constantly changing the personnel of the squad would prove counter-intuitive. This includes the likes of Christian Eriksen, for example. Eriksen is that vital cog in between the attack and the midfield, but, without Bentaleb, Eriksen will be much less effective. In order to provide service to Harry Kane, Eriksen needs to be on the ball, but without the tackling, intercepting and passing supply of Bentaleb and Mason, that time will be severely limited.
Now, Bentaleb isn’t the messiah, and may not be the future best player in the world. However, he could be just as important to Spurs as any other player in the squad. He is the heart of the team, and Spurs would be well served if they keep their faith in the young Algerian.