Moussa Sissoko has proved a disastrous signing for Tottenham. Ben McAleer looks at where it’s all gone wrong for the £30million flop….
Late into deadline day last August, and Tottenham were eager to push a deal for Moussa Sissoko over the line.
Everton looked set to secure his services, only for the France international to reject calls from Goodison Park in favour of White Hart Lane at what proved, quite literally, the 11th hour.
The move for Sissoko was obvious. Manager Mauricio Pochettino was looking to add a powerful runner out wide to improve his attacking options and the club’s offensive versatility.
Before this season, Pochettino had routinely favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the wingers cutting infield to afford Danny Rose and Kyle Walker the necessary space to fly down the flanks and stretch the opposition.
It was an approach that worked, but Spurs struggled at times to break down staunch opponents, with Pochettino lacking a player that could punch a hole in the defence.
On paper, then, Sissoko’s capture made sense…. He had come off an impressive Euro 2016 campaign, playing a crucial role in the hosts’ progression to the final only to fall at the final hurdle to Portugal. The 27-year-old offered the attacking thrust that complemented Dimitri Payet’s guile on the opposite flank to provide France with ample options down either flank.
Whether his performances in France were what convinced Pochettino to sign Sissoko remains to be seen, but the decision to splash a club-record £30million on the wideman – that payable over five separate, £6m installments depending on who you believe – has proven to be a misguided one, or a very expensive mistake.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but when a team’s former club is laughing when they cash in on an underwhelming performer, you just know that something is amiss. When it emerged that Newcastle has coaxed Spurs out of £30m last summer, the Magpies couldn’t believe their luck.
Since then, the biggest impact Sissoko has made was left on the side of Harry Arter’s head. Granted, an assist in the 2-1 home win over Burnley proved vital, but that was more down to Rose’s running to create the initial chance. Seven starts isn’t a great return for the player, yet when handed the chance from the off in domestic and continental competition, Sissoko has left very little to the imagination.
His most recent – and perhaps his last – league start in a Spurs shirt came in the 3-1 win over Swansea, but even then he failed to make influence the result in his hour-long outing, with he looking as bemused as to his duties on the pitch as the fans were at his overall performance.
It wasn’t much of a shock that the biggest cheer from Spurs fans prior to their enthralling comeback came when he was withdrawn from action in place of Vincent Janssen.
The north London side have somewhat disappointed in the transfer market in recent years. While the club did well to invest in the likes of Victor Wanyama, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, they have made some concerning movements in windows gone by.
In the wake of the Gareth Bale sale to Real Madrid, Spurs spent big to sign seven players, with the most notable failures coming in Paulinho and Roberto Soldado. There were high hopes for the pair, yet they very much flattered to deceive for Spurs and were consequently sold to Shanghai Shenhua and Villarreal, respectively.
Sissoko is another who is rumoured to be on his way out of Spurs sooner rather than later, with a return to France on the cards. It remains to be seen whether a Premier League side will take a chance on the wideman, but even then, Spurs will demand a significant return on the money they spent in the first place.
That being said, it’s more than likely that they must take a cash hit in order to get Sissoko off the wage book.
With a lack of significant return relative to the level of investment, there’s a strong argument to be made that Sissoko is the worst signing Spurs have ever made. Certainly the stats present a strong case….
While he is offering enough in the way of dribbles per 90 (2.3) which is second to Mousa Dembele (3.3) of all Spurs players to make 10 or more league appearances this season, a lack of end product is at times costing Spurs, particularly once he breaks into a dangerous position to put opponents to the sword.
The logic behind his capture was there, in that Pochettino demanded a powerful runner out wide, but Sissoko is hardly the player to strike fear into opponents considering his lacklustre final delivery.
Sissoko’s debut season in north London also looks set to be his last as Spurs strive to improve the squad accordingly.
Links with moves for Wilfried Zaha and Ross Barkley come as little shock, then, with both offering the dribbling qualities out wide and the creative ability to influence games where required.
The former Newcastle man has been hampered by a lack of game time at White Hart Lane, but not many are expected to shed a tear once as and when his departure is confirmed.
By Ben McAleer