With less than 1-year remaining on his current contract it seems inevitable that Mousa Dembele will depart Tottenham Hotspur at the end of the season, but who exactly will the club sign to replace him?
Dembele has been a mainstay at the heart of Tottenham’s midfield since he arrived at the club from Fulham in 2012, but with time running out in his career it seems inevitable that he will embark on a new challenge in 2019.
Whether the Belgian powerhouse will chase a cheque or seek one final stimulating challenge remains to be seen, but what is for certain is that Mauricio Pochettino will need to sign a new lynchpin to replace him.
Dembele will leave some rather large shoes to fill and finding a like-for-like replacement represents something of an impossible task.
With that being said, Pochettino would be wise to turn his attention to Europe’s most talented young central midfield players in search of an upgrade rather than a replacement, and one man who undoubtedly falls into that category is Ajax’s Frenkie de Jong.
The world renowned Ajax academy has struck gold once again with de Jong and it’s absolutely no surprise that he has reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City and Tottenham, according to talkSPORT.
De Jong’s elusive ability to drift into pockets of space all over the field of play is a trait exclusively donned by the world’s best central midfielders, and the fact he is able to combine his intelligent positioning sense with an incisive range of forward-thinking passing suggests he has the potential to blossom into one of Europe’s most effective midfield lynchpins.
Esteemed BBC European football journalist James Horncastle has lavished praise on the 21-year-old this week by stating: ‘He can play at the back, he can play in midfield. He seems to be one of those classic Dutch footballers in that he is a universal talent – he can pretty much do everything.’
Indeed, de Jong is a multi-talented individual with a desirable blend of physical and technical attributes and the praise which Horncastle has heaped upon the prodigy is certainly no exaggeration.
Horncastle also went on to add: “He has a lot of the traits you associate with Ajax but a few peculiarities, differences which make him a really interesting talent.”
At this moment in time it’s difficult to identify a player in world football quite like de Jong, and the uniqueness of his playing style is a quality which will undoubtedly drive his asking-price to astronomical heights in the coming transfer windows.
Whether or not Spurs will be able to compete with the financial strength posed by some of Europe’s heavyweight clubs remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that Ajax’s crown jewel would represent a solid investment for Daniel Levy and help Tottenham to make a seamless transition into the post-Dembele era.
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