Premier League

Tactical shift, homegrown chance: Potential consequences of Spurs selling 80-cap international

Mousa Dembele’s future is likely to have huge ramifications at Tottenham, regardless of which way it goes. According to the Sun, he could move to the Chinese Super League in January, with Chinese outfit Beijing Guoan apparently eager to bring him to the club ahead of the start of their season in February.

Despite being 31-years-old, Dembele – who has 80 international caps for Belgium – is still a regular at Tottenham and for his country, and he maintains the trust of Mauricio Pochettino despite some mixed form over the last few weeks.

If he’s kept, then, you’d expect business as usual to continue, with the Belgian likely to remain a key part of the fold in London, which, in turn, could reduce chances for others, notably any potential signings or young players already at the club.

What could offer more of an interesting proposition, then, is the prospect of Dembele leaving Spurs. He’s such a crucial player, and his departure would undoubtedly have a major impact at Tottenham.

With that said, here are three potential consequences of Spurs selling Mousa Dembele…

Harry Winks Gets A Chance

The obvious replacement for Mousa Dembele is Harry Winks, who is already at the club. Though perhaps not a completely natural fit, he is an option that makes sense. He offers great ability on the ball, and Mauricio Pochettino has appeared to be moulding him into a player that has the ability to take over from Dembele.

You’d expect him, then, to see more minutes than he currently is following Dembele’s departure, if the Belgian does leave.

With Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier the only two other options with regular experience in the role, you’d imagine him to either slot in alongside the duo or rival them for a place at the very least.

Again, he needs further training and tutoring, but in terms of raw ability, he’s a good fit.

Signings Made

If Harry Winks is not deemed suitable, though, maybe a new signing could be made. Tottenham could receive up to £10 million for his sale if he goes to China, according to the Sun, and when combined with their lack of summer spending, that could mean that Mauricio Pochettino is afforded at least one big name in January.

Granted, it won’t be easy to bring someone in to replace the enigmatic Dembele, but there are choices out there.

Abdoulaye Doucoure is perhaps the most obvious choice in the Premier League, given how much he has impressed in a similar role to Dembele over at Watford. Outside of the Premier League, there are plenty of options too – but it would, of course, be more of a risk to go for someone that isn’t proven in the English top flight.

Nonetheless, at this point Tottenham need new faces, and Dembele’s departure could facilitate that.

4-2-3-1 Becomes 4-3-3

What can’t be understated is the impact that Mousa Dembele has in this team. The Belgian isn’t just a defensive midfielder, nor is he a deep-lying player, nor is he just a jack of all trades. In fact, he’s each of those things at the same time, and he does each role fantastically.

His range of passing is brilliant, and whilst he doesn’t notch up many assists, you’ll often find the Belgian playing the ball prior to the final pass. He’s also strong and a real battler in the midfield, often breaking up play and moving it back forward. In Dembele, then, Spurs have a player that, on his day, can be seen playing 2 or 3 positions at once.

Naturally, then, losing him might require more than just a new face, as a player may be unable to adjust to the new role quickly.

Thus, perhaps an outright formational change may make more sense. More of a packed out midfield could help make up for the lack of Dembele through the midfield, and that could allow Tottenham a bit more control in the middle of the park. A shift away from Pochettino’s favourite 4-2-3-1 into a 4-3-3 may help facilitate this, perhaps with Dele Alli dropping deeper to pick up some of the creative surplus.

It’s unlikely to be a long-term solution, but it may help ease the transition.

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