Can Moussa Sissoko be Tottenham’s Ji-sung Park?

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Moussa Sissoko has had a mixed time at Tottenham. Since signing from Newcastle in the summer of 2016 the Frenchman has been a divisive figure among Tottenham fans. This week Mauricio Pochettino has labelled him “one of Tottenham’s most important players this season”. This quote has proved very controversial in the Tottenham community. Pochettino cited Sissoko’s ability to transition from defence into attack as his standout talent. Sissoko’s critics, however, do not feel his technical ability is up to standard. Sissoko has similar traits to former Manchester United midfielder Ji-sung Park. Pochettino could copy Alex Ferguson’s approach and use Sissoko in games where his defensive and offensive ability can be best utilized.

Big game player

Tottenham have a possession-based style. Against weaker sides it is not unusual for them to have near 65% possession. In these games Sissoko is a pointless player to have on the field. He has very poor shooting and finishing and his passing is adequate at best.This season the Frenchman has only contributed two goals and two assists in all competitions. However, his best performance of the season came against Real Madrid. In that game, he and Serge Aurier absolutely tortured Marcelo, who was voted into FIFA’s 2017 team of the year.  Tottenham played on the counter and Sissoko’s power and pace were a massive benefit in relieving pressure and getting the side further up the pitch.

Pochettino’s go-to guy

At United, Park was Sir Alex’s ‘go-to guy’ for United’s big games. He provided energy and defensive cover. Alex Ferguson summed him up with “Ji-sung Park is one of the best professionals we’ve had here. He was truly fantastic, and particularly in big games. I loved playing him in the big games. The Milan games over there and at Old Trafford, when I asked Park to play directly against Pirlo, are memorable. He never gave Pirlo a kick and he kept running off him which was brilliant too.”

Sissoko has the potential to be Pochettino’s Ji-sung Park. The Frenchman has everything Park had plus strength. The last game Tottenham lost, Sissoko only featured as a six-minute substitute. This was against Manchester City. Tottenham were overrun especially down the right-hand side which Sissoko would’ve covered. These are the games that Moussa Sissoko should be played in not games like the draw against West Ham when Spurs had 70% possession or the draw against Southampton when they had 60% possession. In both of those games, Spurs sacrificed an attacking outlet for needless defensive cover while against City they had no one to relieve the pressure by making a twenty or thirty yard run with the ball.

Can Moussa Sissoko silence his critics?

For a £30 million player Moussa Sissoko has not been overly impressive. However, many are quick to forget how influential he was in France’s Euro 2016 campaign. Very few expect Sissoko to be as good a footballer as Eriksen or Alli but, if put into the right situations which allow him to utilize his power, pace and strength, then he could become a massive asset for Tottenham Hotspur.

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