Spurs: Should they sell Mousa Dembélé this Summer?
The Belgian is finally receiving the plaudits he deserves, but is it time to cash in?
Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho and Mousa Dembélé.
Those are the three biggest talents Mauricio Pochettino has worked with during his career. Whilst two of those picks seem obvious, it’s only on the evidence of the past twelve months that the third is equally deserving.
Mousa Dembélé has enjoyed a circuitous route to the top, arriving at Fulham as a leggy playmaker back in 2010 after winning the Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar. After two sprightly seasons, he joined the Lilywhites where he was moulded into a deep midfielder by his cerebral Argentine coach,
The transformation is stark. Dembélé has blossomed into one of the most complete players in the Premier League, combining adroit tackling with impressive strength and dribbling.His performance in the ill-fated Champions League tie against Juventus was just the latest in a season chocked full of dominating displays, including one-man steamrollers of Manchester United and Arsenal.
Tottenham fans, then, will greet the news emanating from Belgium on Friday with alarm.Giving an interview to La Derniere Heure, Dembélé admitted that he might be tempted by a move away in the Summer.
“For now, I’m only focusing on Tottenham,” he said.
“Maybe this is my last season. Or maybe I’ll sign a new deal. We’ll see.”
The question is; can Spurs afford to lose him?
Not just stats
On statistics alone, the answer is ‘yes’. Dembélé is nowhere near the top ten for goals or assists in the Premier League and never has been for the past eight years.To judge him on this alone, however, is to do a disservice to a talent who ghosts beyond every marker and metric. He is an architect of space, the furnisher of subtly destructive passes and knowing interceptions. What makes him so anonymous is what also makes him so brilliant.
Pochettino relies on the man he has described as a ‘genius’. There is nobody like him at Wembley; Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama can’t tackle like him, whilst Christian Eriksen doesn’t have the same defensive nous or ability to withstand challenges. Dembélé combines the talents of all three, making them better.
His Stock Has Never Been Higher
Dembélé, however, will be 31-years-old this year. His stock has never been higher when player transfer values naturally decline. Daniel Levy has always been bloodlessly economic with Spurs’ transfers; the Belgian, despite his outrageous talent, is not immune from the economic reality. Spurs will never get as much for him as they might do this Summer, particularly if he has a solid World Cup.
For every majestic display Dembéle registers, too, there are a few worrying lapses. He was dreadful against Southampton in January, in a performance that had many Spurs fans calling for his head. As he gets older, the likelihood of these abysmal performances increased further.
A Potential Star
Selling Dembélé now would also make room for some of Spurs’ bright young talents to progress.Harry Winks, worshipped as a potential star last year, has barely had a sniff due to repeated ankle injuries and loss of form. Letting the Belgian go leaves a void for another player to stake a claim; Winks, with his combination of youth of cosmopolitan passing, is better placed than most.
For the player personally, a move would represent the chance to earn a wage equivalent to his talent. With 18 months left on his existing contract, Dembélé is earning less than £100,000 per week. For a man described by his manager of the ‘greatest talents in football’, it is a remarkably low amount. There will be no shortage of suitors in the summer who will pay far more than that.
Dembélé might be a God in the white half of North London, but a move away makes sense for most parties. Whether it happens remains to be seen.
Do you think Spurs should let Dembélé go? Let us know below!