Piece of the puzzle: 24 y/o could partially replace what Dembele sale took from Spurs – opinion
Tottenham Hotspur have been on a downward trajectory for the past 18 months or so.
The London club may have reached a Champions League final last season, but they won just three of their last 12 league games in 2018/19, and that poor form has unfortunately carried into this season.
Mauricio Pochettino was sacked after a poor start, and Jose Mourinho hasn’t been able to get the club back on track, with this week confirming that Tottenham will miss out on a Champions League spot for the first time since 2015.
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Of course, there are a lot of factors at play here, but it’s no coincidence that Tottenham’s downturn in form came shortly after the departure of Mousa Dembele last January, and despite bringing in two big-money midfielders in the shape of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, the Belgian still hasn’t properly been replaced.
Dembele was a midfielder who could do it all, his defensive contributions were fantastic, and his ability to dribble with the ball could kickstart attacks, and while it’s hard to find another player who can do that, they may be on the trail of a player who can at least partially replace him.
Piere Emile Hojbjerg is reportedly a target for Tottenham, and while he doesn’t possess the same panache Dembele had when going forward, his defensive output would replace the sturdiness that the 33-year-old gave Tottenham’s midfield.
According to WhoScored Dembele has averaged 2.1 tackles and one interception per game over the last 11 years of his career, and Southampton’s Danish midfielder trumps both of those numbers with his stats this season.
Creatively, he also matches up well with former Fulham man, with the Belgian averaging 1.1 key passes per game over the last 11 years, compared to an ever so slightly lower output from Hojbjerg.
The key difference is with ball carrying and decision making, Dembele’s 2.4 dribbles per game since 2009, trumps the Dane’s 1.3 this season, and his pass success rate is also much greater, but if Spurs can coach Hojbjerg into improving those areas of his game, they could finally replace what they lost when Dembele departed.
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, FootballFanCast.com reports