Will Mousa Dembélé’s contract be Spurs’ best January signing? The 28-year-old has recently penned a three-year contract, to the delight of many Spurs fans. Even though the club are rumoured to be bringing in a couple of signings the contract extension could prove to be of paramount importance even compared to any new signing. But why?
Mousa Dembélé has to be one of the most underrated players in the English Premier League. His retention of the ball is superb. His strength, coupled with his vision to distribute to his team-mates, ensures that Spurs can counter quickly or slow down the game. This will be vital if they want to cement a Champions League spot or even challenge further up the table.
Of course, possession isn’t everything—just look at Manchester United’s possession predicament currently. In addition, he is an excellent dribbler of the ball, which is yet again a largely unnoticed attribute. Comparisons have been made between Dembélé and a Rolls-Royce, that is, a classy, reliable and powerful engine. Indeed, he glides across the pitch with real ease, shrugging off opponents and driving forward.
However, he does come in for criticism. Some fans lament over his sometimes ‘safe’ passes or his lack of goals compared to other midfielders. These judgements aren’t entirely wrong. Dembélé does prefer ‘safe’ passes as a midfielder who wants to keep the ball and thus keep his team on the attack, but sideways or even backwards passes are absolutely necessary for the modern game.
Tottenham are often counter-attacked against. Leicester did this quite effectively in their 1-0 win over them in the Premier League. Interestingly, Dembélé did not feature in that game. One man doesn’t change a team, but he definitely has a major influence because of his assured and absolute certainty in possession. Besides, a team does not need eleven players to pick out wonder balls to score a goal. Dembélé is very often involved in the chain of passes leading up to a goal. Without his vital link in the chain, the team’s moves would collapse. There is no other Tottenham player who could fit the chain like Dembélé currently does.
One explanation for the fact that he is overlooked sometimes is that he doesn’t score too often. He isn’t the name in the headlines. But, he is the name allowing the headlines to happen and without him, players like Harry Kane would struggle to thrive. He is one of many midfielders at Tottenham, with the likes of Dele Alli, Nabil Bentaleb, Eric Dier and Ryan Mason all vying for his position. Some aspects of supply and demand come in here. If Harry Kane, Spurs’ only thoroughbred centre-forward, is sold, suddenly there will be a complete lack of firepower. However, the exit of Dembélé would be disappointing, yet fixable. This is why he isn’t rated as highly as he should be.
Spurs will not sign any player as important as Dembélé. He is a vital player in the squad and his extended stay at the club is one the best deals Daniel Levy has made recently. This contract ensures that the team have experience to slot in alongside the abundance of youth. What better example to follow than Mousa Dembélé?