Yves Bissouma labelled Antonio Conte crazy after his first pre-season under the Italian, and hinted at who could be the preferred midfield pairing.
Tottenham bought both early and well this summer with six first-team faces all arriving by July 19. In contrast, the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United are still scrambling around for signatures less than a week away from the new season.
Of Tottenham’s six signings, the common consensus is Yves Bissouma is the smartest piece of business.
Indeed, the Mali international had been a one-man wrecking ball in Brighton’s midfield since arriving from Lille in 2018. The £25m Spurs forked out looks excellent value on paper for a player in his prime and proven in the Premier League.
Conte can now call upon three superb midfielders with games tailor-made for his system. Bissouma joins Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur, with Oliver Skipp in reserve and potentially Harry Winks if a buyer can’t be found.
Hojbjerg and Bentancur formed an efficient partnership following the latter’s January arrival last year. However, in the aftermath of Tottenham’s final pre-season clash with Roma, Bissouma hinted he and Hojbjerg may become the preferred pairing.
When asked if the foundations of a midfield pairing were beginning to be formed between he and Hojbjerg against Roma, he replied (via Football London): “Why not? Yeah, of course.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, that’s why we work together, and it’s not just me and him.
“We’ve got Rodrigo, Skippy, so all midfield try to work hard and be ready when the coach needs some midfielder at the positions, so we’re working to be ready.”
“I like him because he’s crazy like me” – Bissouma
Bissouma only featured twice in pre-season after contracting Covid earlier in the summer. That unfortunate turn of events ensured he missed out on Tottenham’s trip to South Korea while isolating.
Regardless, Bissouma has now experienced his first pre-season under the notoriously demanding Conte and his reaction suggested he’s relishing working with the “crazy” Italian.
“I’m very happy to be with him [Conte] at this club because he’s living football and I like that, I like the coach like him,” he continued.
“I know he can push the team higher and the players as well. That’s why we’re trying to do what he wants.
“Every training is not easy, but we’re working for that, and I like him because he’s crazy like me. Good crazy because he’s crazy about football, and I like how he works, I like how he teaches everyone, and I like his work.”
How high can Tottenham go?
Expectations are the highest they’ve been since the Mauricio Pochettino era was in full swing. However, even the most optimistic of Spurs fan is aware it is a season or two too early to be usurping Man City or Liverpool.
Regardless, third and comfortable passage back into the Champions League looks a genuine possibility.
Chelsea’s bread and butter in recent seasons has been their defence. However, Thomas Tuchel is set to be working with a new set of tools in that department this year.
Man Utd, meanwhile, have dazzled in pre-season and Erik ten Hag has got several key underperformers – such as Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho – firing on all cylinders. However, the current Red Devils squad have shown they can and often do wilt when the heat is on.
Arsenal have also bought well, Gabriel Jesus in particular. The Gunners may be Spurs’ fiercest rival to be best of the rest behind City and Liverpool, though in that scenario, they’d both get top four.