Moussa Dembélé is set to return from a six-game suspension after his eye-gauge on Chelsea striker Diego Costa, but how is he going to reinstate himself as a first choice midfielder amongst Spurs’ new additions?
Dembélé, 29, was considered the best box-to-box midfielder in Europe by the CIES Football Observatory before his ban last season, but he may struggle to convince Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino that he can revive that reputation – especially after spending the last few months in the stands.
The Spurs’ chief has already expressed the confidence he has in the first XI that thrashed Stoke City 4-0 yesterday, with new signings Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sossoko putting in some powerhouse performances in central midfield.
Pochettino’s plans may not involve the Belgian international after splashing out over £40million to land his new midfield gems, and it could prove to be another frustrating few months for Dembélé as he faces some stiff competition.
They were only beaten twice in their first 31 Premier League games, and guess what, their not-so-secret collapse at the end of last season coincided with the suspension of Dembélé – arguably their most important player at the time.
The North London side have now managed to pick up eight points from their first four games, it’s not bad, but until yesterday’s bout at the Bet 365 Stadium, they have looked rather flat at times.
Then there is the factor of Tottenham’s high-tempo style. Dembele’s tenacity and ability to regain possession is exactly Pochettino looks for in his players, and even though Sissoko can account for that, the Belgian is still highly regarded by his manager.
Dembélé has now made 115 appearances for Tottenham since he signed from Fulham for £15million in 2012.