With Rodrigo Bentancur suffering a blow to the head near the end of the Nottingham Forest match, it seems likely that Yves Bissouma will get his first Tottenham start midweek against West Ham United. What can Tottenham fans expect from their new midfielder?
Malian midfielder Yves Bissouma was one of the marquee signings for Tottenham Hotspur this summer. Since coming to Brighton and Hove Albion from Lille in France in July 2018, Bissouma terrorized many a midfield as part of Brighton’s right to a top-half club. His success over four seasons and 124 games with the Seagulls led to Spurs signing the midfielder for $32.1 million (£27.4m) this summer.
Although Bissouma was signed early in the summer and had preseason with the club, he has been slowly integrated into the squad like most other new signings under Antonio Conte. And although Bissouma has appeared in all four Premier League matches thus far for Tottenham, he has only accumulated 26 minutes in those four appearances.
With the pace of games quickening and Bentancur receiving a knock at the end of the win at Nottingham Forest, now seems the time to get Yves his first Tottenham start. Spurs’ opponent, West Ham, may sit near the bottom of the table, but they are a strong side and will be a good test for Bissouma to show his all-around game, so what can we expect?
Introducing Bissouma will give Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg even more freedom
Through four games, Spurs have used the same combination of Bentancur and Pierre Hojbjerg. The combination was effective down the stretch for Tottenham last season and has continued to do enough. Bentancur and Hojbjerg have split duties pressuring the ball, but primarily, Hojbjerg has been the deepest midfielder, and Bentancur has pushed forward.
For Bissouma, his calling card is his presence defensively in the midfield, which will allow Hojbjerg more freedom to push forward. The Malian is a ball-winning machine, equally adept at reading a play and intercepting a pass as he is stepping up and making a tackle. His tendency to do both makes him an elite defensive midfielder, statistically.
Bissouma can do more than win the ball back for Tottenham
One attribute that sets Spurs’ new midfielder apart from other defensive midfielders is what he can do with the ball at his feet. Bissouma is not the passing technician that Bentancur is, but his historic completion percentage is elite at near 90%.
Setting him apart from, say, Harry Winks – who routinely played matches completing 90% of his passes – is Bissouma’s ability to pass the ball through the lines effectively. We should expect to see Bissouma play as many passes longer than 15-yards as he will be shorter than it.
Beyond his passing and tackling is Bissouma’s ability to maintain the ball under pressure. Yves can turn on a dime with the ball and then accelerate back to top speed almost immediately, creating separation in the midfield, which should improve Spurs’ link-up play.
With a solid defensive foundation, good dribbling skills, and passing range, Bissouma is an all-around midfielder, and we fans will start seeing that on Wednesday.