4 Players Who Could FIX Spurs’s Midfield

Tottenham are in a position of trouble at the moment. Their stadium is still unfinished, which has left them with a real lack of resources to upgrade one some of the positions in their squad. It’s why players like Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld are still at the club. They do not want to risk a sale because there is a low chance they could bring in an improvement or even an equal replacement. However with a midfield full of players, it gives them not only the ability to sell, but an easy chance to improve on them. Let’s go through their options first and find out who should stay and who should go. This will only be brief.

Eric Dier

An ever present since his breakout season back in 2014, Dier is a player loved by Pochettino. Since 2015/16, he’s played over 30 games every season. His versatility, aggression and his injury free record do make him a player easy to like. I do think he is a player who is good to have in a squad, with the hectic game schedules that occurs during the winter. I just do not think he excels in anything. His defensive work does leave a lot to be desired. He isn’t a creator or a good dribbler, and rarely ever shoots. He is definitely worth keeping however. His ability to cover in defense is great to have and it’s always good to have a player who seems to be available whenever the manager needs him.

Conclusion – Keep

Moussa Sissoko

Easily one of the worst bits of business done by Tottenham in the past few years. Sissoko arrived after performing relatively well in the Euros back in 2016 for £30m. This all happened in the last hour of deadline day, which just shows the desperation. He came in during a summer which saw Tottenham sign Janssen, N’koudou, and Wanyama. None of these players screamed title challenge and ambition at the time, even if some were pretty smart bits of business. This was the same summer that saw Manchester United bring back Pogba for a record fee, N’golo Kante moving to Chelsea and John Stones moving for £50m to Man City. Sissoko came in to remind the league that they should be taken seriously, yet made them more of a laughing stock. While he has had a bit of a resurgence in recent months. His age and quality just isn’t what this team needs.

Conclusion – Sell

Victor Wanyama

As mentioned, Wanyama came in back in 2016 for a very cheap £11m. Spurs sold both Mason and Bentaleb that summer, so midfield support was needed. The Kenyan did very well at Southampton. He was an absolute titan in midfield, using his size and strength to win the ball back for the saints, and help protect the defense. Dier did often cover in defense, so bringing in a player, who while not as flexible, was still a better player than his English teammate. He had an excellent first season at White Hart Lane, playing 36 games. While his defense work did drop (which is due to Spurs having more possession than his former side), his passing accuracy and chance creation were at a career high. He was on the up, but a growing injury record has halted his progression. It might seem ruthless, but it might be time to let him go. There shouldn’t be a place for a player who is this unreliable.

Conclusion – Sell

Mousa Dembélé

Dembélé is a classic example of a player who might not be a fancy name, but adds so much to your midfield. His dribble success rate, solid defensive numbers made him one of the critics’ favourite midfielders in Europe. He could plug a gap in midfield that can be so difficult. However last season, this talent of his started to decline. His dribble numbers were dropping and his defensive work jumped off a cliff. This season it has only gotten worse, making his usability even less. This isn’t all his fault. It’s the effects of aging in football. Eventually your numbers drop like this and every player has experienced it. It’s just a shame it’s happened faster to Dembélé. The Belgian was incredible on his day, but now it might be time for him to move on and play in a less demanding system.

Conclusion – Sell

Harry Winks

When he broke onto the scene last season, I thought he was a massive boost for Tottenham. Of course he was playing in the 2016/17 season, but only played 480 minutes. However he began last season very well, with his performance against Madrid highlighting how promising he is. His range of passing is incredible, and keeps a solid 91% pass accuracy. While his chance creation is still quite low, there is definitely a real talent here who still has a lot of work to do. My biggest problem with Winks is his defensive awareness. In their game against Barcelona at Wembley, he was at fault for a majority of the goals, because he allowed Messi and Arthur to just walk through the midfield. It is was arguably one of the worst midfield performances I’ve ever seen this season. He is still a talented player and does add something to this squad, so he will remain.

Conclusion – Keep

The reason I’ve went through this is to examine what Tottenham truly need, after the right sales are made. They will not only need one midfielder, but two. A very clear Dembélé replacement, to help with transition from defense to attack, and to win the ball high up the pitch. The first move I’ll be making is to promote Oliver Skipp to the first team, as an available option. He has only started a single Premier League game this season so it is difficult to know if he is ready. However he did put in the most tackles for Tottenham, won the most aerial duels and created a chance. He is only 18 so the experience is invaluable at his age. The next player to bring in is a more defensively minded player, someone who might not contribute much in an attacking sense, but will offer solid protection to the back line. Let’s begin with the 4 midfielders who could fix this midfield.

Nicolò Barella

This will be my Dembélé replacement. Barella has been on the radar of many big clubs for a couple of years now. He possesses very high defensive numbers and is a very good dribbler. Last year, Pirlo and Totti both highlighted him as the future of Italian football, and it’s clear to see why. He has been playing for an average Cagliari side, who aren’t prolific in front of goal and are mostly average at the back. He wins the most tackles for his side per 90, with 2.7, and attempts the most dribbles. The problem with Barella recently has been his decline in his dribbling. It’s went from a very impressive 1.5, to 0.8. This is easily explained by opposition teams seeming to figure him out. They have realised that he is one of Cagliari’s most threatening players and know he has to be dealt with. It’s shown by the number of times he is fouled is increasing. It’s went from 1.9 to 2.6, a dramatic increase and it has made this season a bit more difficult for him. He still attempts the most dribbles however and it’s clear how important he is to the transition of this side. Even with his completed dribbles decreasing, he is attempting more, giving away less fouls, shooting and creating more chances and even completing more passes. The problems he’s facing could only be because he’s the best player in this side, making him an easy target. If he did go to Tottenham, I don’t think he’d have the same problem, with Eriksen, Kane and Alli all seen as huge threats. It would give that unpredictability again, and truly bring out the best in him. He’s 21 at the moment, making him a perfect signing for Tottenham, but also a slight risk. He has never played in a Champions League side before, so the amount of games could be surprising, but as mentioned he will be one of two signings, and Spurs do not have the resources to spend of Champions League players. He attempts more dribbles than any other Spurs midfielder, and only Foyth (who has only played 6 games) wins more tackles than Barella’s 2.7. This could be explained by Spurs simply more of a possession side, but it would still be a massive help, knowing he’s that good at winning the ball back. His disciplinary record is also a bit of a worry, with the Italian being sent of already this season, and amassing 13 yellow cards last season. However it is his responsibility in the Cagliari side to win the ball back, and usually that involves making tackles to stop counter attacks. He would cost Tottenham a record fee of more than £45m, which for a player who would be such an improvement, would definitely be worth it.

Ibrahim Sangaré

A player I have spoken about previously, but let’s go through why I think he just makes sense as a signing. Ligue 1 is always a league full of players that go under the radar, as seen by Brighton signing Bissouma for next to nothing. Sangaré is another along this line. The Ivorian started the season so well for Toulouse, but picked up an injury at the end of October, tearing his tendon. It’s forced him to miss 10 games so far, and hopefully will be back by the end of January. Nevertheless, he is a player with a lot of potential. He’s played 9 games so far this season, playing the full 90 on every occasion, and his stats look incredible. He’s completing 4.3 tackles per 90, the most for his side and more than anyone who has made as many appearances as Sangaré. What is most impressive about the midfielder is his dribbling. For a 6.3ft player, he is actually very mobile, completing a crazy 2.3 dribbles per 90, with a 71% success rate. He can just do everything, all from a number 6 position. He’s even taking 1.2 shots per game, with 0.8 in the penalty area. He is somehow putting in a high volume of tackles, completing a lot of dribbles and even advancing to the opposition box. It is simply incredible. He seem to be able to fill in both in a defensive sense, and being able to help with transition, with Barella now being linked to Chelsea, I would recommend going for Sangaré, if Barella is too pricey. But this all depends on if these numbers continue when he comes back from injury. If they are, he has to be a high target.

Philip Billing

While both Sangaré and Barella should be top targets, and have potential to improve this team, Philip Billing is a signing I can’t recommend more. He is playing for an awful defensive and offensive side. Huddersfield seem unable to score goals, and keep clean sheets. There is a very likely chance they will get relegated, and Billing should definitely be the first player to be taken from them. He has been very good this season. He is a large player, who is winning 3 aerial duels a game, and is winning 5.6 tackles and interceptions this season. While that does seem likely considering how often he will be without the ball, it’s just how dynamic and aggressive he wins it. Billing is seen all over the pitch and doesn’t seem to have a set zone to stay in. He just roams and intercepts the ball, and does this effectively. He’s already started more than double the games he did last season, and only Idrissa Gueye wins more tackles in midfield than the Danish midfielder. The only problem is he really doesn’t offer much in attacking sense. While Sangaré was taking a majority of his shots in the box, making him a very good box to box midfielder, Billing is the complete opposite. He takes most from outside the box. It can’t all be blamed on him. As mentioned, Huddersfield are awful and it could be Billing just wanting to help his team in any way, and taking any half chance they have. His chance creation and passing aren’t exactly great, but he is playing for quite a poor side, and is seemingly being relied heavily on not only defensively, but on the other side of the pitch. If he is given a specific role, and grow in his ability on the ball, he would be a fine player for Tottenham. With Huddersfield going down, it’s possible to get him out for less than £15m, which would be a massive steal for a club that need some.

Mario Lemina

Arguably the most obvious of signings. Lemina fits the Dembélé mold pretty easily. He is an excellent dribbler and puts in a lot of defensive work. While he did excel in a poor Southampton team last season, completing 2.2 dribbles and winning 4.8 tackles and interceptions last season, he is now playing under a manager who isn’t awful. Ralph Hasenhüttl has brought in an aggressive press into this side. This made so much sense because many of the players at the club are able to play a pressing system, with Lemina being one of them. His ability to win the ball back and his transitional play make him perfect. The problem with trying to bring him in would be the price. He’s currently 25 years old, a player at the perfect age, where he’s at his peak while also having the ability to improve. The problem with bringing him in is the price. Southampton charge a lot for their best players, and Lemina would be no exception. Hasenhüttl has already said that Lemina is a very important part of his plans, so letting him go for less than £40m would be unlikely. I would definitely recommend him, but it just depends on if Spurs want to spend a lot on him.

That’s the four players I would recommend. I think Billing is a must depending on Huddersfield’s relegation (which looks likely). Sangaré would need to keep up his form after his eventual return to justify a big move. Barella is currently being pursued by Chelsea, which are a club that are difficult to beat when it comes to transfers. Lemina would make so much sense, but it all depends on how well he does this season. He has enough talent to justify a purchase. Spurs are in a real money problem at the moment. I’d recommend Sangaré and Billing if money is a problem. They might work, but would have sell on value. This is a massive area for Tottenham, and need to get it right.

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7 Young Players To Watch This Season

With the season underway, let’s look at 10 players who look like they could be real stars in the future, based on their starts to the new season. They have to be under 23, otherwise anything goes. I will not be including Kylian Mbappe or Ousmane Dembele, for obvious reasons that they are already top level players. These are players are not yet the finished article.

Jadon Sancho

The player currently on the lips of every Englishman, Sancho has been spectacular at the start of the season. With only having one start, he has already scored and assisted 6, the most in Europe. It has blown many away, who didn’t know who he was 12 months ago. I knew enough about him before his transfer, being he was a player highly rated at Manchester City, and scored for England at the under 19s World Cup. However he left City for the purpose of game time. Bernardo Silva was signed shortly before his departure, which was a real wake up call for him. He decided to make the big move to Dortmund, and so far has definitely paid off. While first season was definitely an adjustment period, his second season has started off so well for him. The winger has been coming off the bench late in games, causing tired defenders even more troubles. He shows such maturity for his age, with the forward usually choosing the more selfless option for his side. This isn’t exactly how a forward, with such a great ability on the ball, should always be approaching the final third. He will eventually learn how to not only create, but score. There are improvements to be made, but there is so much promise to be seen here. Favre seems to be handling him very well in the first team. Playing a winger with such speed and rawness come on at the end of the game, where it is usually much easier to face defenders, makes it much easier for him to shine. Let’s hope he is able to earn more starts for his side.

Ben Chilwell

I’m trying incredibly hard to be creative with these picks. Most people choose Maddison, Sterling, Alexander-Arnold and Ruben Neves. They are all pretty boring answers because they are all covered constantly. Everyone already knows that they are talented players, so let’s look at someone else. Ben Chilwell looks to be a perfect modern day full back for any club, and he is still only 21. He has been a player I have been aware of for a few years now, and I was just waiting for him to be given consistent starts. That happened last season, with the young Englishman starting 24 games, starting double of the games he did in the previous season. Having both Chilwell and Pereira as starting fullbacks gives Leicester and excellent pair of full backs, considering their size compared to other teams. Chilwell has started the season with excellent numbers. He’s making 1.3 key passes and completing 2 dribbles per 90. Those are amazing numbers for a full back. From your full back, you usually expect at least a key pass and to complete at least a dribble, and Chilwell is definitely achieving those numbers. While he isn’t as good in his own third as the opposition’s, he is still producing okay numbers. He does win an impressive 2.9 aerial duels per 90, with the Leicester defender also completing 2.2 tackles and interceptions per 90. That is fine enough, but his success rate in his tackling does leave a lot to be desired. He completes roughly 60% of his tackles. That will need to improve if he wishes to become a top defender in the future. I have no doubts that he will improve. He has already shown enough to start for England and to earn a big move in the next couple of years. If his first couple of England starts are anything to go by, he could becoming a complete full back in no time at all.

Nicola Milenkovic

While Piatek has started the season on fire, I do think 23 is pushing it, so I’ll go for Fiorentina defender Nicola Milenkovic. The Serbian was signed in the previous summer, however he is now starting to become a regular in the side. He has started all 8 games this season, and has played well for a defender of his age. Judging from his stats, it does seem like he is playing as more of a sweeper (makes less tackles and interceptions because he is there to cover for his other defender). He has only managed 2.2 tackles and interceptions this season. Fiorentina are in the top 4 in Serie A for tackles and interceptions. It might seem low but his partner, Vitor Hugo, has managed a combined 4.9 tackles and interceptions. Milenkovic has also averaging 1.6 fouls per 90, which shows how he is usually the player to make those last ditch fouls. Playing such a role at a young age, covering for another defender, is so impressive for such a young player. He is also a huge threat from set pieces, scoring 2 goals already, and taking 1.3 shots per game. It would explain why is aerial duels are at such a solid 2.4. Milenkovic does have some great attributes at only 21. Being able to cover for another defender, and show resilience when dealing with opponents in the air, are qualities to admire. His ability on the ball should also be commended, with the defender averaging a 77% pass accuracy. That is very good considering what kind of passes he is attempting. He attempts 9.5 long passes per 90, with roughly a 50% success rate. Seeing a young player, with such a good range of passing, is a sign that he should be at a higher level. Milenkovic has the ability to reach the top level, and this could be his breakout season.

Maxi Gomez

While Milenkovic could have his breakout season, Gomez already had his. Last season, Gomez scored 17 and assisted 4 for a very attack minded Celta Vigo side. However looking at his stats from last season, it was clear how he could have been a bit fortunate to have scored that many. It is still very impressive to see a 21 year old score that many goals in his first real season as a starter. His form earned him a spot in Uruguay’s world cup squad. He didn’t have much of an impact, but the experience must have been very beneficial. His game has already shown such improvement this season. Antonio Mohamed has been using him as a player to bring others into play this season, using his amazing ability in the air to assist both Sisto and Aspas. He is arguably one of the best players when it comes to winning headers. The sheer height in his jumps, to his ability to find his teammates is invaluable to how Celta play. He has scored 4 and assisted 4, seeing him equal his total of assists last season. This change of game is evident in his stats, where he is winning double his aerial duels, from 2.5 to 5.1. He’s making twice as many key passes, from 0.6 to 1.3. However due to his more selfless role, his shot numbers have slightly dropped, going from 2.3 to just 2. He has went from a player who was just in great form for a majority of last season, to a player with such a desirable use. So many clubs would love a striker like Gomez, someone who is able to bring more talented players into play. PSG could take a gamble in replacing Cavani, however it is his other Uruguayan teammate that needs replacing. Barcelona have already expressed interest in Gomez, because of his attributes being extremely beneficial for a side who have so many talented players in less advanced roles. If Gomez continues on his current trajectory, he will definitely be playing in the Champions League next season.

Harvey Barnes

Mason Mount has been on the lips of everyone keeping up with the Championship, but Harvey Barnes is the young Englishman who is tearing the league apart. The Leicester loanee has been very impressive at the Hawthornes. He has already scored 5 and assisted 2. He originally started playing on the left side of midfield, but as soon as Darren Moore moved him into the number ten position, where he took his already impressive start, onto another level. He has been key to why West Brom have the best attack, with the 20 year old taking the most shots in the side, with a huge 3.3. He has the third most goals in the side, with only forwards Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez scoring more. He has also done very well in a creative sense, averaging 1.7 key passes per 90. That is very impressive considering the amount of shots he takes. With Mount being the young Englishman that everyone is raving about, it could lead a club to buy Barnes on the cheap, because of his lesser presence. It does help that West Brom are currently doing better than Derby, with the Baggies having the highest goal difference and sitting 1 point behind Sheffield United, who are currently top of the Championship. However it is still impressive he’s been able to have a such an influence on a side that already had many experienced players. If he continues this form going into next season, the only way is up for Harvey Barnes.

Ibrahim Sangaré

As mentioned before, Ligue 1 has been the same, yet not. PSG are leading the table as expected, but below that has been interested. Marseille and Lyon are unable to show any sort of consistency, and Monaco have fell off a cliff. It has brought to light some of the performances of teams and players this season. Lille have excelled with their wide talent carrying them with style and flair, Montpellier showing extreme resilience at the back, and now Toulouse. The Violets have had a relatively fine start to the new season, currently sitting in 8th place. While it hasn’t been as spectacular as the likes of Lille and Montpellier, but one of their players have been stand out, and that is Ibrahim Sangaré. The Ivorian plays in defensive midfield, and has started the season in blistering form. Sangaré’s defensive work is by far his best attribute, with the 21 year old completing 4.3 tackles per 90. What else is important to highlight is his dribbling ability. He attempts 3.2 dribbles, with a 71% success rate. His role in this side is similar to Geoffrey Kondogbia or Allan, to recover the ball and quickly transition the ball by using their strength and ability on the ball. Players like this usually have big tackle numbers and a high dribble success rate. These players have recently been in huge demand. They protect the back four in excellent fashion and ensure that attacks are started quickly. Sangaré fits this mold perfectly, and if he keeps this up, he could comfortably fit in any side who need this role. Toulouse are known for selling players at not so high amounts. He could be a summer bargain for any side with a solid defensive midfielder in need.

Wenderson Galeno

Now onto another player that is not exactly on the radar, Galeno is currently play for Rio Ave, on loan from Porto. The young Brazilian has started his loan spell in great form, already scoring 2 and assisting 2 in Liga Nos, playing as a wide attacking midfielder on both sides. Galeno’s game is not exactly perfect. While he does shoot 3.9 times a game, a majority of those are from outside the box, and considering he hasn’t scored a goal from outside the box, it seems he is a very wasteful player in those areas. However decision making like that does improve as you grow as a player. His creative numbers are still very impressive. He averages 2.1 key passes, 1.6 crosses, and 2.2 dribbles per 90. He is showing some real good attributes at a young age, and his future could be seen a creator. There are still so many areas he needs to improve, but the foundation is there for him to succeed.