Mousa Dembele is closing in on a Tottenham exit as he is set for an £11 million move to Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan. Although he was set to leave on a free at the end of the season, this is a bitter blow for Spurs and questions will be asked if a replacement isn’t brought in. There has been an emphasis on Mauricio Pochettino to trim the squad, but this is a key player departing the club.
Since moving to Tottenham in 2012, the Belgian international has made over 200 Premier League appearances for the club. There were doubts regarding his ability towards the beginning of his spell in North London, but he took his game to a new level under Pochettino. The appointment of the Argentine came at a good time for Dembele and the midfielder became one of the most important players at the club.
It was during the 2015/16 season that Dembele peaked under Pochettino. During that campaign, he averaged 3.6 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, dominating the central areas and helping the club qualify for the Champions League. Since then, he has remained an influential figure, but injuries have hampered his ability to replicate that form.
Despite this, he has continued to figure prominently in the big games and his exit does spark concerns regarding the central midfield positions. Victor Wanyama hasn’t been as effective since his debut season. Harry Winks remains an inexperienced player, while Eric Dier continues to show inconsistency in his performances.
It is remarkable to write, but Moussa Sissoko is emerging as one of the most important players for Tottenham for the rest of the campaign. The Frenchman has taken his game to a new level this season and he will be the player that Pochettino looks towards to dominate games in the middle of the park.
Like Dembele, Sissoko has a lot of power and he can often be seen bursting past opposition players in the central areas. However, there are doubts that remain about his ability on the ball. He doesn’t have the passing ability that was possessed by the player he is stepping up to replace and that is a concern. There needs to be an improvement in his play with the ball if he is to cement a place in the starting eleven.
Although Pochettino has faith in the players available to him, supporters will be hoping that the club sign a midfielder to replace Dembele. Tottenham failed to sign a single player during the summer and that doesn’t portray a club looking to progress. It would be difficult to defend Daniel Levy and the board if they sell a key player without a replacement coming in this month.
Tottenham are in a good position this season. They are currently in the top three with an outside chance of challenging for the title and remain in all three cup competitions. There is an opportunity for the club to have their most successful campaign to date. Their chances would be boosted if the board back the manager and ensure their squad finishes the window in a stronger state. If they don’t, it could cause a lot of damage.