Tottenham have had a good start to the window. Their recent signing of Yves Bissouma did catch the imagination, as he has been a very good player in the Premier League for Brighton. He adds a different profile to the midfield options at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Antonio Conte settled on a Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur partnership in the second half of last season.
The combination worked well, but Bissouma adds more dynamism to the squad and his ability to break up play will enhance the team. It speaks volumes that Conte has already made two major signings in the middle of the park. This suggests he didn’t rate the players that he inherited. Harry Winks is expected to move on, while Oliver Skipp is a good rotation option. Although the manager seems to like the academy graduate, Skipp is unlikely to be a regular starter in the coming season.
As a player, Bissouma’s strengths lie out of possession. He is excellent at winning the ball back and those skills are why he has been targeted by Tottenham. The midfielder averages 3.11 tackles and 2.34 interceptions per ninety minutes. His reading of the game is excellent and he is aggressive without the ball. The Mali international averages 17.69 pressures per ninety minutes, which puts him in just the 40th percentile among midfielders. However, he has played a more disciplined role at Brighton, so he holds his position more often.
This is likely to change at Tottenham, as part of a midfield two. He will get license to get from box-to-box. Bissouma certainly has the work rate and physical attributes to succeed in such a role. The former Brighton player is good at breaking lines in midfield, as he can carry the ball forward past opposition players. He averages 4.35 progressive carries (64th percentile) and 1.32 successful dribbles (90th percentile) per ninety minutes. This will be a strength in Tottenham’s system as they will often be outnumbered in midfielders. The ability to carry the ball will be crucial to create space against teams that outnumber Spurs in the middle of the park.
One part of his game that will need to improve at Tottenham is his progressive passing. Bissouma averaged 2.22 progressive passes per ninety minutes, leaving him in the 7th percentile among midfielders. This doesn’t mean he can’t do it, but at Brighton, it wasn’t his role. His pass success rate of 89.7% shows that he is comfortable with the ball and can maintain possession when pressed.
Hojbjerg is the Tottenham midfielder that progresses the ball most frequently with an average of 5.72 progressive passes per ninety minutes (88th percentile). Meanwhile, Bentancur averages 4.29 per ninety minutes (62nd percentile). Both have a pass completion above 87%, showing how reliable they are in possession.
In terms of their ball winning, Hojbjerg averages 2.37 tackles and 1.97 interceptions per ninety minutes. Bentancur averages 2.67 tackles and 1.93 interceptions per ninety minutes.
Based on an overview of the three midfielders, it is clear how they differ. Bissouma is clearly the most active ball winner, while Hojbjerg is the best at progressing the ball with his passing range. Bentancur is a hybrid of the two. It is worth saying that Bissouma’s statistical profile could change at Tottenham, as his role will change slightly.
Bissouma’s mobility makes him a good fit for Conte’s Tottenham. The number of matches Spurs will have to play in this compacted season means that there will be plenty of rotation. All three will have a major part to play.
There is a belief that Bissouma is likely to displace Hojbjerg, but he will need to show that he can progress the ball often and with success in order to do that.