Moussa Dembele proving his worth

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during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur at Allianz Stadium on February 13, 2018 in Turin, Italy.

Moussa Dembele has been one of Tottenham’s standout performers in recent weeks. The club has had some difficult fixtures against the likes of Juventus, Manchester United, Liverpool as well as North London rivals Arsenal. Tottenham survived these fixtures unbeaten thanks in no small part to Moussa Dembele. The Belgian has struggled for fitness in periods of this season with a troublesome knee leading some to suggest that his best days may be behind him. However, stellar performances over the past month or so has squashed any such murmurings.

Moussa Dembele proving his worth

Renaissance

Moussa Dembele originally came to England as a striker/attacking midfielder but eventually settled in as a central midfielder at Fulham. After impressive displays at Craven Cottage, he moved across London to Tottenham Hotspur for a fee in the region of £18 million. Dembele originally struggled at Tottenham; he was regularly rotated under Harry Redknapp and successor Andres Villas-Boas. It was not until Mauricio Pochettino took over that Dembele finally turned his potential into ability. The Belgian is, to be blunt, massive. As well as his size, he can take on a man and has superb ball control. These qualities were not appreciated until Pochettino took charge at Spurs

Dembele against deep blocks

Juventus are famed worldwide for having one of the meanest defences in Europe. After going two goals up within ten minutes they attempted to implement a ‘deep block’. Unfortunately for them, they failed to factor in Moussa Dembele. Against the Premier League’s ‘weaker’ sides, Tottenham are faced with a similar challenge. In a lot of these games recently Dembele has not featured in or has been off form due to only being back from injury. Tottenham struggle to break down the lower-half sides without Dembele. It is hard to not understate how well Dembele dealt with one of the worlds best sides at deploying the tactic.

The tactic is basically useless unless the midfielders are played as sweeper centre-backs when defending Dembele. Dembele skipped past Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic like they were not there repeatedly throughout the game. This resulted in Dembele laying off the ball to the influential Christian Eriksen; the duo caused havoc all afternoon. As well as attacking, Dembele shut down the majority of the Juventus attacks after the chaotic first ten minutes for Spurs. Very few players in world football can match Dembele’s skill and size. Only the Belgian’s lack of end product is holding him back from the elite status.

Recognition

For some time now the fact many Tottenham players regarded Moussa Dembele as their best players bemused neutrals. However, the talent that the Spurs players see on daily basis is now clear to see for everyone. Manager Pochettino has even named him among the five geniuses he has worked with in football, alongside Maradona and Jay Jay Okocha.  Alongside winger Heung Min-son, the two are finally getting the recognition from outside of the club and in the media.

Time running out

It’s very likely that Moussa Dembele will not fully be appreciated until he is gone. The Belgian is almost 31-years-old and with a troublesome knee, it is unclear how much time he has at the top level. Replacing Dembele should be high on Tottenham’s list of priorities but until that day comes Tottenham fans should just admire the Belgians genius.

Main Photo

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