Why Bissouma addition should strike fear into Tottenham's Premier League rivals


A left wing-back has arrived, as has a backup goalkeeper, and one that boosts the home grown quota, but Tottenham are not done yet in the market, far from it in fact. Ivan Perisic and Fraser Forster joined on frees and the expectation is that, before long, Spurs will tap into the £150m transfer budget that Antonio Conte has been handed this summer. 


Conte wants the bulk, if not all of, Spurs' transfer business to be completed before they jet off on their pre-season tour of South Korea next month, so expect a hectic few weeks at Hotspur Way. Djed Spence is more than likely to become a Spurs player this summer, so too is Yves Bissouma if reports on Tuesday morning are anything to go by. 


The north London side have reportedly agreed a £25m fee for the Mali international, who was entering the final 12 months of his Brighton contract. Indeed, it was now or never for Brighton if they were to make a profit on the midfielder they signed from Lille back in 2018. Spurs witnessed Bissouma at his ball winning best when the Seagulls secured all the spoils at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in April with the 25-year-old returning a WhoScored of 7.83, that his sixth best in a Premier League game last season. 


Conte had made it clear that he wanted another central midfielder this summer despite the January arrival of Rodrigo Bentancur, but for a side that plays with two central midfielders, strength in this area is key. As such, Spurs are set to approach the 2022/23 campaign with Bentancur, Bissouma, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp as his four key men in the area, with Harry Winks, Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso all up for grabs, the latter tipped to remain with Villarreal after a successful loan stint. 


What this means for Spurs, though, is that with Bissouma joining, they'll have two set types of central midfielder to aid the club. Bissouma's average of 4.8 tackles and interceptions per game was the fourth most in England's top tier last term, and it'll be the Malian and Skipp competing for the ball winning role in Conte's favoured 3-4-3 system, while Bentancur and Hojbjerg are the ones to help advance the play. The latter pair forged a good working relationship in the midfield for the second half of last season, but as proven by his Denmark showigs at both the UEFA Nations League and at Euro 2020 last summer, Hojbjerg can provide the necessary attacking thrust in the middle of the park if his midfield partner carries out the nitty-gritty work. 


It's this quality that Bissouma carries out impressively, as noted by the above average of tackles and interceptions per game. That said, there is more to his game than just robbing opponents of possession. Bissouma won't create much in the final third, as proven by a return of just 0.3 key passes per 90 last season, but when he does win the ball, a key strength of his is the ability to glide up field. 



Of the 84 players to attempt 50 or more dribbles in the Premier League last season, Bissouma's dribble success rate of 66.7% was the 10th best in the division. Given the current importance of central midfielders being able carry possession forward, this is a huge asset to Conte's side that has been found wanting to an extent. In the wake of Mousa Dembele's exit, Spurs lacked a central midfielder to progress the play from deep. Ndombele was supposed to be the answer, but looks to have played his final game in a Spurs shirt, and supporters are hoping Bissouma can carry out a similar duty to Dembele, who was nigh-on impossible to shake off the ball in an unbelievable 2015/16 campaign, without doubt his best in a Spurs shirt. 


In addition, Bissouma has the ball retention quality to ensure that when he does win the ball, he is able to consistently pick out a teammate. An 89.2% pass success rate was the best of all Brighton players in the Premier League last season, and that return in itself would have been the fourth best of all Spurs players, with Skipp, Bentancur and Hojbjerg, respectively, those above him. This recycling of possession is key for any central midfielder and that he returned such an impressive accuracy for a Brighton side that finished ninth, it speaks volumes of the ease of which he is able to consistently pick the right pass. 


"His high-end actions are Champions League level," Brighton boss Graham Potter said of Bissouma in the wake of his performance against Spurs in April, and that is a boost for Conte's side as they gear up for a return to Europe's elite competition. There are off-field issues that need to be cleared, however. As noted in The Times today: "Bissouma was arrested under suspicion of sexual assault in Brighton last October and was released under investigation before playing for Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations in January. He is still waiting to learn the outcome of the police investigation." On the pitch, though, Bissouma seems the perfect fit in the middle of the park for a high intensity outfit such as Conte's.

Why Bissouma addition should strike fear into Tottenham's Premier League rivals