Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Moussa Sissoko admitted he’s struggled to find his best form upon his £30M summer move from Newcastle.
The French international has attributed such toils for consistency with his late arrival to White Hart Lane, the pricey transfer, a lack of pre-season and an injury picked up in his second league start for Spurs.
However, Newcastle supporters have long been critical of Sissoko long before his London switch. Have the Lilywhites taken a needless and expensive risk?
Contrasting playing style to Tottenham’s philosophy
Tottenham’s identity is well-known under manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Londoners are one of the fittest sides in the Premier League, capable of pressing high up the pitch and playing an expansive and attractive style of football to create chances. However, Sissoko sticks out like a sore thumb given his skill set.
Mousa Dembele had a similar problem when Pochettino made the switch from Southampton, but he adapted to stay in the team, losing weight and building up his fitness, and now he’s regarded as one of the best central midfielders in the league. Sissoko should be taking inspiration from the Belgian if he’s to last at White Hart Lane as the Frenchman has showcased too much of a willing to run with the ball and give away fouls.
Sissoko’s move was questioned from the off as a result of his poor work rate and inconsistency at Newcastle, but clearly Pochettino finds something in him to work on to make him a key player in the future. However, as things stand, Sissoko is almost twice as likely to make a foul than clean tackle or interception, and has a poorer pass completion than all four of his central midfield compatriots – Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele.
Inclusion leads to lack of creativity
Moussa Sissoko has primarily operated on the right flank for Tottenham Hotspur this season, the same position Erik Lamela would usually feature in. The latter has shown much more creative craft and goal threat than Sissoko and has the ability to pick defences. The former Newcastle man, however, relies on his physical attributes to get forward and affect the game in the final third, so it’s hardly surprising he’s not scored or created a goal for Tottenham or France at the Euros.
Tottenham have needed players to get between the lines and drag players out of positions to exploit the space and create chances. But Sissoko likes to run with the ball, rather than without, which has led to attacks being predictable down his side. It’s something manager Mauricio Pochettino needs to think about as it’s clear the creative flair isn’t coming from Sissoko.
He’s long been a player for the physical side of the game, providing a driving force in midfield rather than possession any playmaking traits. Tottenham Hotspur are 8/13 to miss out on a top-four finish in the Premier League this season with how they’ve started the campaign. Sissoko’s form has mirrored the club’s indifferent start, but can the midfielder find his feet?
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