‘This is his chance to revitalise his career’
A phrase commonly adopted by fans and pundits alike, the notion represents an opportunity for a player to re-establish himself at a new club, and once again showcase the talent that had previously promised so much. The most common perception is that of a move to a smaller club, which for many of those plying their trade in England often applies to the dropping down of a division. However on the odd occasion, a player that promised so much with exceptional performances only to now find themselves restricted to fleeting appearances and cameo roles may receive a call from his agent that not only startles the adoring football public, but also the player themselves. If recent press reports are to be believed, Belgian midfielder Moussa Dembélé has won the footballing lottery, with rumours suggesting that Jose Mourinho is willing to offer him an escape from his White Hart Lane nightmare, and offer him a chance to compete with the elite of European football with Chelsea. Mourinho seems to be a strong believer in such opportunities this summer, and with a deal reportedly almost in place for the loan signing of Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao, the Portuguese is willing to provide Dembélé with a similar opportunity.
After several strong seasons in the Dutch Eredivisie with Louis Van Gaal’s AZ Alkmaar, Dembélé secured a move to England with West London side Fulham, making an excellent start by laying on 2 goals in his first league game. Several years of impressive performances saw the Belgian secure a big money move to Tottenham, but despite the funds spent to bring the player to the club, Dembélé has failed to establish a regular berth under current manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentinian manager has primarily utilised Dembélé as a substitute, but the midfield enforcer’s performances when given a starting place suggest that he had done enough to warrant more appearances for his side. WhoScored.com rates Dembélé’s substitute performances at a measly 6.38, but when compared to games in which he has started, Dembélé registers stats of 7.18 in the defensive midfield role, and an impressive 7.23 just behind the front man. Impressive showings in both positions proves Dembélé to be a versatile asset, and with Tottenham’s form unquestionably patchy and inconsistent throughout the season, question marks must hang over Pochettino’s decision to not give the player more game time.
With Nemaja Matić having a superb first season anchoring the Chelsea midfield, and the club possessing an array of devastatingly talented attacking midfielders, it may be wondered where exactly Dembélé would fit into the Chelsea side, and whether the former Fulham man would simply be swapping one bench for another. However with fellow midfielder John Obi Mikel expected to leave the club for Turkey or the Middle East, and Mourinho harbouring ambitions of lifting the Champions League trophy with the Blues, Dembélé would be the perfect addition to Chelsea’s already star studded squad. Matić has been exceptional this past season, appearing 44 times for the Champions, but injury to such an influential player may derail future title bids, and Mourinho must prepare for all eventualities. Dembélé would be an ideal option, and with a fee in the region of £10 million expected to be enough to prise the player away from The Lane, the tough tackling midfielder with an eye for a pass and the ability to make surging runs through the middle would certainly become a bargain asset to Stamford Bridge side. Whether breaking up play in front of the back 4 or providing an additional option further up the pitch, Dembélé would fit well into the Chelsea squad, and with fellow Belgian Eden Hazard deservedly receiving numerous awards for his endeavours this season, Dembélé may well draw inspiration from his countryman’s success, and rekindle the form showed when he made the move across the Channel to Fulham. If Mourinho’s interest is fact genuine, then he may have to move fast, as a player of Dembélé’s calibre available for a fee as little as £10 million is likely to spark interest across the continent, and an epic tussle between Europe’s top sides for the midfield enforcer’s signature may prevail. At the age of 27, Dembélé is entering the peak of his career, and would make a worthy addition to any side with title ambitions, and wherever the Belgian ends up next season, his new manager may enjoy his end of the transfer window glass of wine basking in the glory of the acquisition of such a fine talent.