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Yves Bissouma: Three Tottenham Talking Points

1. Joyous Tidings

If you happened to notice AANP bounding about the place in particularly bonny, blithe and gay fashion in the last week or so I’d congratulate you on your perceptive nature. Every now and then our lot unveil a new signing that puts no end of buck in the step, and the scrawl of Yves Bissouma across the headed notepaper has done precisely that.

I mentioned in my last tuppence worth, a couple of weeks back, that I’m not generally one to devote my energies to watching opponents, being far too consumed with monitoring the every move of those in lilywhite. As a result, it’s something of an event when an opposing player catches the AANP eye during a Tottenham game, but in this category young Monsieur Bissouma can proudly step up to collect a gong and clear his throat for a victory speech.

The job he did when we travelled to Brighton last season, was quite something to behold. Memory suggests that while some other chappie pinched the last-minute goal that weighted the scoreline in Brighton’s favour, it was Bissouma’s security work in the central areas that won the thing. In particular, I wouldn’t wonder if that rotter Harry Kane greeted Bissouma’s arrival in N17 by bunging him over the head with a brick, such was the job done by the latter on the former in that match. Whenever the ball was shoved in the general radius of Kane, Bissouma was upon him in an instant, sucking the life – and most of our collective creative juices – out of him for the entirety of the gig.

And while admittedly one random shindig in the sun last season is not the sort of stuff upon which one ought to base a fully-fledged opinion, the bespectacled sorts who crunch numbers have rather more weight to throw behind the chap. For a start, the numbers have him down as having made more frequent tackles and interceptions than anyone else in the league last season, which lends a touch more gravity to the argument and has me nodding an admiring head.

Of course, he might still swan into the team and prove a dreary letdown (he wouldn’t be the first in the hallowed corridors of the Lane) but frankly the odds are stacked in his favour. A player who looked in charge of much he surveyed last season, with a couple of years of Premier League experience and, at 25, one would presume a fair amount of oxygen to in his lungs, represents one heck of a deal at £25m.

Indeed, he even popped up with a rather eye-catching solo goal in the Cup fixture at N17 last season; although my spies assure me that such activities are the exception rather than the norm when it comes to Bissouma’s list of bullet points. Nice to know that he’s capable of such things, of course, but the fellow has been designed by Mother Nature for more defensive-minded inputs.

And that’s fine by me. While Bentancur would collect the ball and dreamily pop it along to the better-placed, Hojbjerg last season grafted away but often seemed to be operating on the very last couple of drops of energy wrung from his tissues. The addition therefore of a bona fide midfield enforcer is pretty exciting stuff, particularly given that in our neck of the woods midfielders tend to be the creative sorts who’d rather not waggle too many defensive legs if they can get away with it.

2. How He Fits In

The central options next season therefore appear to read: Bentancur, Bissouman, Skipp and Hojbjerg, the first two of whom will presumably rise, cream-like to the top, but the latter two of whom have respectively the energy and nous to deputise at the drop of any hats and with minimal disruption or – crucially – dip in quality.

One might, of course, quibble, that between this quartet there is still something of a dearth of creative tricks and party-pieces that make the eyes pop and opposition fall apart at the seams, but that’s not really the point. Conte-ball seems to require a central midfield pairing that neutralises all threats and shifts us from back- to front-foot in the blink of an eye, and in both respects Bissouma appears to be precisely the sort of egg about whom exciting montages are spliced together.

(Some might also point that the potential incoming of a certain free-of-charge alumnus in central midfield would add a degree of creativity, and the option for tactical tweaks away from 3-4-3, but that’s a debate for another time.)

3. Our Changing Transfer System

Part of the thrill of all this to-ing and fro-ing is the pretty radical departure it signals from the traditional way of doing things in N17. We’ve been raised (rather cruelly it seems to me) on a diet of tortuous transfer sagas stretching the entirety of the summer, before a last-minute panic to complete deals, and the signing of a couple of unproven bods in their early twenties with potential sell-on value.

Witness the current contrast. Three deals inked and ready to go before the longest day of the year has stretched its legs; each of whom are proven in their positions. This rather than being the sort for whom we wait, with fingers crossed and lips pursed, to see if they’ll fulfil their potential.

Frankly, the good sense of this summer’s dealings thus far, coupled with the no-nonsense way in which players have been identified as the best available to meet the necessary criteria, makes this seem like a game of Football Manager rather than the Way of Things in Hotspur-land.

The immediacy of it all – buying proven players who can waltz straight into the starting line-up and will improve our league position in this coming season, rather than three years hence – is both unusual and jolly entertaining. Frankly, it represents a degree of sensible thinking I had not thought possible with our lot. But then, Conte has seemingly had that effect in all he does about the place. And Grandmaster Levy, rather sensationally, is now backing the honest fellow! Long may the sanity continue!

(Not wanting to gloss over the potential seriousness of the legal case hanging over him, but with no information available it’s near-impossible to opine one way or t’other at present, so the ramblings above are purely football-related)

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6 replies on “Yves Bissouma: Three Tottenham Talking Points”

Thanks for the post ?
Re the new signing / He always stood out when playing against us. A little like the midfielder at Watford, a few seasons back, I think. . Think we have a very capable player on our hands, if only, the one criticism might be his concentration at times. He’s locked us out and, let us in, if memory serves, in different games. Our midfield is really starting to have depth and quality to it. Credit to Conte for calling it out; The financiers for responding as most of all us.. the fans for all paying and believing in it all. Couple more signings etc and we are looking tasty for next season.

I get that Conte wants to play in this functional way, but the football lacks entertainment compared to Spurs teams of the past. To have four defensive midfielders is a bit much. None of them are known for their goal scoring either. When you think of the entertaining skilful midfielders that we had in the past, like Hoddle, Hazard, Gascoigne, the midfield play is now a dull watch in comparison. It has degenerated from creative flare to focusing on stopping the opponent and tactical monotony.

Much will depend on the wing-backs and shifting the ball from back to front-three – although none of which will address the point you raise. I suppose Eriksen might, if he (or someone similar) arrives.

The once and future king of the Spurs midfield referred to above (if signed), might well prove to be one too many of the fellows, despite Conte’s assurances on the subject. Conte has already hinted at partnering Messers Betancur and Bissouma; as for Erickson, it would seem only natural to pair him with his successful six o’clock shadow on the Danish national team, to wit, Herr Hojbjerg. That leaves an unhappy Skippy out in the cold–and to reduce the youthful Tottenham talisman (the chappie with the best win/share percentage on the team, I must point out) and projected future captain gathering splinters on the bench seems a dismal state of affairs to me. And this doesn’t even begin to address the glut of disaffected midfielders already circling the training grounds unsold and untraded: the sullen and sardonic Lo Celso, the weakly well-meaning Winks, and, like some lethargic wolf lurking in the far fields of France, the overweight and insouciant Ndombele. Far be it from me to rain on this midsummer parade of fresh signings, but unless the subtractions begin to rival the substitutions, there may be a bitter harvest in the fall…

If you play with a midfield two then creativity isn’t the main requirement. You need what used to be called “get it and give it” midfield players who can cover the defence, win the ball and pass it on accurately to someone who can do more with it. In Conte’s system the creativity is supposed to be provided by the wing backs and the front three. You need two players for each position, especially if you are playing in Europe, so four similar players for two similar positions makes sense. Trying to predict who will be first choice out of the four strikes me as pretty futile especially given the fact Skipp has years of improvement left in him.

Inclined to agree, Monsieur Jod, particularly on the sentiment of needing two players for each position. On top of which, the advent of five subs next season means it ought to be a mite easier to keep happy those on the bench.

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