Moussa Dembélé – Good Enough For Tottenham Hotspur?

 • by Sam McGuire
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Tottenham Hotspur are said to be confident of securing manager Mauricio Pochettino’s top summer transfer target in the form of Celtic striker Moussa Dembélé.

According to reports in the Sun, Spurs believe they have pipped the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain – his boyhood team – to the 20-year-old’s signature. It would be a coup for Daniel Levy and the recruitment team to land such a highly sought-after talent.

The Frenchman has seamlessly adapted to life at Celtic Park since his summer move from Fulham and has 17 league goals and five assists to his name. The prolific striker is involved in a goal every 79 minutes. It’s little wonder Scottish team’s defences are terrified at the sight of the former Paris Saint-German youngster.

He was linked with a £40million move to Chelsea in January but nothing materialised and the rumour mill went into overdrive when he flew to London on deadline day. However, it was for treatment on his knee and nothing more.


Glasgow Live claimed recently that the French striker had rejected the chance to join Chelsea at the end of the season as he could not get a guarantee of regular first-team football.

It’s clear money isn’t a driving factor for the hit-man and development is at the forefront of his thinking. Spurs, and Pochettino, have a history of showing patience with youngsters and developing them.

“This is a deal that has been in the offing for a very long time and looks to be set for this summer,” a source told The Sun.

“The boss is a huge fan and wants to make sure he has enough options up front going into next season.”

Key players in their title push last season and the challenge for Champions League this season are ones who have developed from a young age at the club.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose are all starters and all were given not just the platform but the time to really hone their skills at White Hart Lane.

Dembélé would no doubt be given a chance under the Argentine manager but would they be able to offer him the regular football he craves?

Harry Kane scores twice as Spurs beat Everton 3-2


The only way he could get both the French striker and Kane into the same starting eleven would be to drop one of Eriksen, Alli, Victor Wanyama or Mousa Dembélé, and there’s a risk this could upset the balance of the team.

Is the Celtic star special enough to risk the balance Pochettino has worked so hard to find?

Dembélé is much more than goals

First off, people tend to devalue the weight of his goals because they’re arriving in the Scottish Premier League. It’s not the best defensively but in the player’s defence, you can only beat what’s put in front of you. It never seemed to do Henrik Larsson any harm..

There’s also a misconception in the media that Dembélé is nothing more than a poacher. That’s not a bad thing but at the same time it’s a little disrespectful to a player who has worked on his game to become somewhat of an all-rounder.

He’s quick and likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender when the opportunity presents itself. He’s good in the air (3.3) and won more aerial duels per 90 minutes than Harry Kane (1) in the Champions League.

He can drop into deeper areas and link play with the supporting midfielders. He’s got a creative side to his game which would flourish with a better supporting cast. His pass success rate in Europe’s elite competition is 72.7 per cent from the 23.2 passes he attempts. Kane’s record this season was 74.7 per cent success rate from 25 passes.

Depending on the sort of person you are will impact how you view that stat. Those who are cynical may feel as though he is poor on the ball. However, those with an open mind may appreciate that he’s playing what you could call risky passes. There’s a chance he won’t complete the pass but if he does he gets his team into a goalscoring position.

In the pictures above you get to see the creative side of Dembélé’s game. In the first picture, he picks the ball up in a deep area and has three opposition players in close proximity. He could play it safe, turn backwards to face his own goal and just look to retain possession.

He doesn’t though, instead he plays a lofted pass into the space behind the Inverness left-back for the Celtic man on the right to attack. He turns the opposition around with one pass. They go from pressing him high in their own half to having to chase back towards their own goal.

He doesn’t just admire his pass either. He follows the play forward and gets into a good position inside the penalty area to fire home.

Once again you see Dembélé in a deep area. He picks up the loose ball inside his own half and plays the ball into the space down their right flank. The Celtic man bombs on and exploits it, he carries the ball into the penalty area before chipping the ball to the back post for the striker, who has made up the ground, to head home.

In the sequence of three pictures above it’s his movement and spatial awareness which should be admired. He drifts into the area just outside of the penalty area to fill the space. In this instance many poachers hold their position in the area but Dembélé shows he’s got more to his game.

He then picks the ball up and threads a pass into the space (shown by the white arrow) before driving into the penalty area (highlighted by the red arrow). As the ball is worked into the box centrally he checks his run, steps back to create the space to receive the pass before slotting home with great confidence.

It’s this sort of movement, intelligence and overall play which makes him an ideal fit for the Spurs attack. There’s no question he’s good enough but is there room in the starting eleven at White Hart Lane for him?

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