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Yves Bissouma

Man in the Middle: What Will Yves Bissouma Bring to Tottenham?

Having clinched a Champions League berth in dramatic fashion, most Tottenham fans will have been pleased with how their side fared during the 2021/22 season.

Antonio Conte turned Spurs into a hard-to-beat outfit that was able to win ugly too, and only the addition of some silverware could now enhance his position in the hotseat.

It would be rather premature to suggest that Conte’s men are ready to challenge for the Premier League title, and only the most optimistic Spurs fans with £30 in free bets or a similar offer would be inclined to wager on such an eventuality. But a run in the FA Cup or the League Cup is certainly a possibility, as is a successful return to the Champions League – this Tottenham squad, which has already been strengthened during the off-season, is surely on a par with the class of 2018/19, who of course reached the final of the continent’s premier competition.

To compete on multiple fronts, most would agree that Conte needs to add some quality depth to his squad, and the Italian has already set those wheels in motion with the £25 million signing of former Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma.

But what will the 25-year-old bring to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium?

The Enforcer

In over 100 appearances for the Seagulls, Bissouma scored just three goals – and yet he was booked ten times during the 2021/22 campaign alone.

That offers a telling insight into the type of midfielder that the Mali international is, and while he won’t be powering forward and adding quality in the final third, this is a player with the skill and physical credentials to dominate the middle of the pitch.

While Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur will probably keep their spots as Conte’s preferred duo in the midfield pivot, there’s little doubt that Bissouma is an upgrade on their normal understudy, Harry Winks, who may yet leave the club this summer anyway.

If a successful season is to be had, Tottenham will likely play more than 50 games in 2022/23, and so the need for quality operators as a backup will be more prevalent than ever.

So it’s a deal that suits all parties. Bissouma will make a step up in grade and have a chance of playing top-tier football, but he will accept being second-fiddle to Conte’s established pair in midfield – and Spurs benefit from the presence of an energetic ‘shield’ in front of the defence who has got athleticism and guile in abundance.

His playing style is reminiscent of a classic Conte midfielder too, with orders to ‘destroy’ his opposition, win the ball back and then play simple passes to the more creative talents in front and to the side of him.

The manager made no secret of his fondness for his new signing after Spurs had clashed with Brighton in the Premier League last term. “He [Bissouma] understood when to cover, release, put pressure on, and then you can see his qualities,” Conte said. “His high-end actions are Champions League level. I think you saw the full array of his quality.”

Bissouma will get a chance to showcase his talents on the big stage in 2022/23, and Tottenham will be all the stronger for him.

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