Spurs wasted little time in splashing some of the Luka Modric cash earlier this week by swooping for Moussa Dembele from Fulham. With the money for the Croatian’s sale to Real Madrid barely in the bank, Andre Villas-Boas shelled out £15m for the highly-rated Belgian as he goes about restructuring his midfield options for the season ahead:
The 25-year-old arrives at the Lane on a five-year deal and looks to be a critical piece of the Tottenham jigsaw, with the new manager keen to add a more dynamic edge to the middle of the park. Dembele is the fourth major signing of the new regime, following Jan Vertonghen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Emmanuel Adebayor to the club and, speaking yesterday, Villas-Boas was clearly thrilled to add to him to the club’s midfield ranks:
“Mousa is obviously a player of great versatility, a player who can play in various positions. He played in those different positions at Fulham, and with tremendous success in all of them – on the channels, through the middle, behind the striker. He’s a player with tremendous skills and talent, and we feel that it’s a good grab for us at this moment – a creative player. I think we’ve done one of the good deals in the market. We’re looking forward to working with him, and obviously he’s looking forward to having success with Tottenham.”
Dembele’s career kicked off in his native country in the 2003-04 campaign with Germinal Beerschot. His two seasons in the Belgian First Division produced a single goal and three assists from 20 league appearances before he was snapped up by Dutch outfit Willem II. Quickly displaying an eye for goal, he found the net nine times and produced five assists over 33 appearances before AZ Alkmaar came calling in 2006.
The Belgian remained at Alkmaar for four seasons, helping the club to a third place finish in his debut campaign under Louis Van Gaal. A look at the stats highlights his attacking capabilities – Dembele returned 23 goals and 13 assists from 118 league matches before rejecting the advance of Birmingham City to sign up at the Cottage.
Dembele’s combative nature has led to his offensive threat all but drying up since moving to the Premier League, though. Installed as a central midfielder at Fulham, he produced just five goals and six assists over 62 league matches under Roy Hodgson and Martin Jol. He has also featured at every level from Under 16 upwards for his country and has turned out for the senior side on 40 occasions, finding the net five times.
With Scott Parker currently out injured, Dembele looks set to partner Sandro in the double pivot in Villas-Boas’ current 4-2-3-1 formation. His ball-winning ability and dynamic displays will be key to the high pressing game favoured by the new man in charge and with Sandro offering plenty of industry alongside him, question marks must be raised over Parker’s game time in the season ahead.
Villas-Boas did hint at a change in tactics, however, though it seems his side’s shape could well depend on today’s transfer dealings. Judging by yesterday’s comments, Daniel Levy is likely to be one of the busiest men around, with last-minute deals a clear possibility, according to the manager:
“It depends on how we put the squad together, bearing in mind a possible change to a 4-3-3 system. We have to take that into account. We are at this moment playing with a No10 behind a striker. We are still thinking about possibilities within the market so we will keep assessing it. In football you never know what’s going to happen in the next hours. We’re happy with Mousa’s versatility and, depending on what happens, we might be looking for further additions.”
Right now, Villas-Boas doesn’t seem to have the necessary personnel to shift to his preferred 4-3-3, though the club are still rumoured to be keen on acquiring Joao Moutinho from Porto – such a move would likely see Sandro sitting deep, with the two new midfielders stationed slightly further forward. Quite where the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Rafael Van der Vaart fit into such a system is another matter entirely – Fantasy managers will likely be content to keep their distance until the picture becomes a little clearer, with the duo starting a game apiece thus far.
While the Tottenham transformation under Villas-Boas is an intriguing one, the move looks unlikely to heighten Dembele’s appeal to any great extent. A price of 6.0 in FPL does seem a little more appealing now that he has moved to Spurs but, as the first couple of Gameweeks have highlighted, they are clearly a work in progress. In the Sky Sports game, Dembele is classed as a 7.7 forward – an major stumbling block to his acquisition. Having said that, the Belgian did top the Opta ranks for successful tackles last term which would earn him a hefty slice of bonus points. If he can suggest greater attacking returns at the Lane, Dembele could yet warrant interest.
Spurs’ form is the crucial factor and while they are yet to settle into a new rhythm, faith is clearly faltering; nearly 70,000 FPL managers have shipped out Gareth Bale already but there’s no denying the fixtures hugely favour the London outfit right now. Norwich, QPR and Villa all pay visit in the next five, while a trip to Reading also offers potential – there’s every chance Spurs could flourish over the next few matches as Villas-Boas strives to exorcise his Chelsea ghosts and finally replicate his Porto in the Premier League.
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For Gameweek 38
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