The main talking point of deadline day was the battle for Moussa Sissoko, who eventually joined Tottenham for a £30m fee. They beat Everton to his signature, but it has left people questioning the move, as it isn’t clear how the Frenchman fits in at White Hart Lane. For a £30m investment, it would be expected that the player coming in improves the starting eleven at the club, but that might not be the case with Sissoko. Despite his undoubted talent, there are questions about his best position and how he fits into Pochettino’s system that requires tireless work rate.
There have been reports that state Pochettino demanded that the club sign Sissoko whatever the price, which suggests that he has a role in mind for the Frenchman. During the first three matches, Tottenham have looked one dimensional in attack, causing the club to look for reinforcements before the close of the window. Sissoko will add pace and power, while his ability to drive forward with the ball is something that Tottenham have lacked in recent times. He showed at Euro 2016 that he is capable of influencing matches at the highest level and he will have to perform at that level consistently to live up to his price tag.
The position he will play for Tottenham is unclear, as he has played a number of roles since moving to England. He has featured most prominently on the right wing at Newcastle, but he is able to play in central areas. Although this versatility will help him get minutes at Spurs, Pochettino should focus on coaching him in one position. The system at Tottenham is one that requires high tactical understanding and Sissoko will adjust quicker if he only needs to learn one role.
Pochettino has mainly played 4-2-3-1 since taking over at Tottenham and Sissoko isn’t suited to playing in the central midfield role in this formation. Although he started his career as a central midfielder, he hasn’t played there much in recent years and his defensive work rate is questionable. It will also limit his opportunities to run with the ball, which is when he is most dangerous. Furthermore, his passing isn’t at the standard required to be a central midfielder for a Champions League club. Tottenham already have Victor Wanyama who has a limited passing ability and they can’t afford another in central areas.
He is best suited to a wide role, as he is powerful and excels in one-on-one situations. Sissoko offers a different threat than the majority of Premier League wingers due to his strength. Tottenham play with attacking full backs, which allows their wingers to drop inside. This will suit Sissoko as he isn’t a natural wide player. As an inside forward, he will get the opportunity to move centrally and influence the game. He can also play a huge part in the transition play and his powerful running will allow Tottenham to switch quickly from defence to attack.
As he won’t be expected to stay wide, he could play on the left wing, which has been a problem position for Tottenham over the last 12 months. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have played there, but neither are effective in the role. Sissoko would be a better fit as the wings are the best avenues for his runs and he experience of playing on both wings.
The move is an odd one, but the impetus is now on Pochettino to find a role for Sissoko in his set up. If he can motivate the midfielder and find him a position in the line up, it could turn out to be a great move by the club. The Frenchman’s ability has never been in doubt, but his attitude has. He now has the opportunity at a Champions League club and he must grasp it.