The long running Luka Modric saga ended and Tottenham pocketed £33 million for the want-away star. Luka Modric is not an easy player to replace for any team. The Croatian national team lacked vision and fluidity when their maestro was absent from national team duties. The influence of the fleet-footed Croatian is definitely worth more than the millions he earned at Tottenham. So his departure has left Tottenham Hotspur with a big void to fill. Tottenham fans were searching for an answer to their main concern. Who can replace Modric at Spurs? Today they got their answer in Moussa Dembele.
Tottenham Hotspur has activated the £15 million release clause of Fulham’s Belgium international Moussa Dembele. This represents a smart piece of business by chairman Daniel Levy as he replaced the Croatian with a fluid Belgian and more than half of Modric’s transfer fee is remaining in the kitty. The remaining war-chest is available for improving the weak-spots in the squad. Dembele is an able replacement for Modric in more than one way. Dembele has established himself in the English premier league during his 2 year stint with Fulham and as a testament to his success he was credited with interests from giants Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Dembele is a player who is happy with the ball on the ground and always willing for a give and go which Tottenham inherited from Bill Nicholson’s ‘Pass and Move’ style. His armour is filled with short incisive passes; unlike Modric he is not comfortable in spraying long passes, at the same time he brings an all-round game with clever runs and dribbles. At 6’1 Dembele represents a physical figure at the center of the park and he makes good contribution to defence with solid tackles and interceptions. He fits the bill perfectly as a typical box-to-box midfielder in the Villas Boas Tottenham template.
Tottenham were deemed one dimensional in some matches as they were over reliant on wing play, with creativity missing from center of the park and a natural goal scorer absent in central midfield. With the arrival of Dembele there will be more dimensions to Spurs’ attacks as he has the ability to bring a central focus with his dribbles and runs coupled with goal-scoring ability. Dembele can form the lynchpin in Villas Boas’ setup as he can be a real success with the manager’s preferred formation 4-3-3 as well as Tottenham’s 4-2-3-1. Dembele brings an attacking thrust with his dribbling runs, give and go’s and it can blossom well in Villas Boas patient build-up game.
Dembele was the main reason behind the success of Fulham’s Clint Dempsey. Gylfi Sigurdsson will be welcoming fellow newcomer with open arms as their skill-set and attributes compliments each other very well. Dembele is an efficient tackler and he has won more tackles than all of his EPL counterparts except Yohan Cabaye. So his presence will give more assurance to Spurs defenders without sacrificing the teams attacking front. Dembele was compared to Van Der Vaart by Martin Jol earlier but nowadays he is playing as a central midfielder rather than the deep lying forward role occupied by Van Der Vaart. His signing has increased the speculation around Van Der Vaart and it remains to be seen whether the Dutchman will be in Tottenham colours at the start of September.
Dembele can be termed as an ultra utility man. He is a natural attacking midfielder who plied his trade as a winger, striker as well as a central midfielder. Currently he is touted as a potential replacement for Modric by the Spurs think-tank and he isn’t brought to hasten the exit for Van Der Vaart. Still learning his trade as a deep lying playmaker, Dembele’s positioning is suspect and his tendency to dribble with the ball can leave the defence open for counterattacks. He has shown good improvement as a central player and but may not be an instant success in the double pivot. Dembele will be better suited to a 4-3-3 than a 4-2-3-1. Master tactician Villas Boas will be keen to utilize Dembele’s versatility and he can deploy the talented Belgian in multiple means to wreck the opposition plans.
Villas Boas’ Spurs looks like the perfect match for Dembele’s technical abilities. Dembele passing range might not be the same as the Croatian but his technical brilliance coupled with better quality team-mates can work-out things in Tottenham’s favour. Spurs fans will be hoping for an immediate impact from their new arrival who tormented Manchester United in the previous week. His EPL experience means it will be easier to adapt to life at Tottenham Hotspur. We can look forward to the Belgian arrivals when the Croatian exodus is complete at the Lane. It’s the start of a new era in Belgium and Spurs fans will be hoping for the same at the Lane.