The PFA Player of the Year nominees were recently announced, and while Leicester City unsurprisingly dominated the list, Tottenham Hotspur may feel their impressive season has been overlooked with only one of their players making the final selections.
Tottenham were desperate for more power in a key area
A lot of talk around Tottenham has centered on their high-pressing style and the emergence of a blossoming midfielder partnership between Englishmen Dele Alli and Eric Dier, but Mousa Dembele seems to be overlooked for plaudits despite an outstanding campaign. The Belgian was on the brink of an exit at the end of last season, but has turned his career around following some real changes to his lifestyle and training.
Dembele has been a regular at the heart of Tottenham Hotspur’s midfield this season, making 26 Premier League appearances. Despite only scoring three goals and making zero assists, he finds himself second in the WhoScored Premier League player rankings and it’s no coincidence. Looking a lot more svelte than in previous seasons, Dembele has been industrious and economic, completely buying into his manager’s philosophy.
Dembele like a new signing for Tottenham
Supporters will have been shocked by his transformation as Dembele was a player with all the attributes to be a top performer in the midfield without ever proving it on a regular basis, and now he’s proving his critics wrong. He doesn’t make the headlines for scoring and creating goals, but his dominant displays in the midfield to help Spurs control games.
Physicality in the middle of the park doesn’t always translate into defensive protection, however, as Yaya Toure (Man City) and Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd) have shown this season, but Tottenham’s powerhouse is another story. He’s enjoyed his best season at White Hart Lane by some distance, and now look to be extending his stay longer than many would have thought this time last year.
What central midfielder has been better all-round than Dembele?
Mousa Dembele is known for his incredible strength, powerful dribbling ability, and his incredible balance in possession. Rarely does he lose the ball of his own accord, but this season has seen the Belgian showcase a consistency that has been a long time coming, and he’s been more combative than ever before to become one of the league’s best tacklers in 2015/16.
Only three players have made more tackles than Dembele (99) in the Premier League this season, and only three players have made more successful dribbles (77) – boasting a completion rate of 92%. Only three central midfielders have a better pass completion than the 28-year-old (89.9%), and with Dembele finding himself among the best in each facet of a central midfielder’s key attributes, it begs belief how he’s been overlooked.
His club teammate Harry Kane is 14/1 to be named PFA Player of the Year, but was Dembele unfortunate to be an omission?