Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou has revealed the in-depth conversation he held with Yves Bissouma over the summer in what appears to have changed the direction the midfielder’s career was heading in north London.
The Malian midfielder arrived at N17 in a £25m deal from Brighton; the player seen as an extremely shrewd capture by Antonio Conte at the time. However, the 27-year-old struggled badly in his debut season for Spurs, often failing to get the grips with Conte’s formation and regularly finding himself kicking his heels on the sidelines.
To that end, reports towards the end of last season suggested an unhappy Bissouma was exploring his options and was ready to seek a move elsewhere after just a year at the club. There were talks too that the club were looking to replace him anyway, with now-Manchester United man Sofyan Amrabat frequently mentioned as a possible Tottenham target and upgrade for Bissouma.
And despite Conte’s removal of manager, it seemed difficult to see a way back for the player at Spurs.
To underline his unhappiness, tardiness was creeping in, with the midielder – who made just 10 Premier League starts last season – letting ill-discipline further blot his copybook.
However, a change of manager has brought with it a fresh chance for Bissouma.
And the Malian is now a regular fixture in the Tottenham midfielder, playing alongside Pape Sarr and allowing James Maddison in front of them both licence to go forward to devastating effect.
Bissouma has started all four games for Tottenham this season, and he’s been one of their best players in what has proved an unbeaten start under Postecoglou.
Postecoglou on how he provoked Bissouma into Tottenham U-turn
Now all talk of Bissouma leaving has long been put behind him.
And reflecting on the conversation that sparked his U-turn at Spurs, Postecoglou has been quick to play down his own impact on the player.
Speaking to talkSPORT, a modest Postecoglou revealed: “I don’t think I’ve done anything specific with him. I was lucky because he was here the first day I arrived. A lot of the boys had played international football but Biss was here from the first day.
“I kind of grabbed him and, the way he was training at the time – the first three or four sessions we mainly had young guys – I said: ‘You can be a leader in this group.’ I already knew about his ability but the way he was training, I could see he got a lift from that.
“He was late the next morning and again I said to him that to be a leader means being on time, and he’s been good since then.”
Postecoglou reflects on excellent James Maddison at Tottenham
The undoubted star of the show for Tottenham so far has been £40m summer recruit Maddison. And Postecoglou feels getting the deal done early with Leicester has been key his flying start that has yielded two goals and two assists from four games.
“We signed James pretty early on, which was pretty great for me,” Postecoglou said. “There was competition from other clubs for him but the club backed me early on to bring him in.
“What you’ve seen so far is that we’ve gained a player with outstanding ability but also somebody who is very, very driven to bring success to this football club. I think when you get both, sometimes you get players at different stages of their careers, but for James and the club it’s the perfect time.
“He’s coming here to make an impact, not just for himself individually because I think he’s already done that as an individual. He wants to make an impact for this football club and I think for James Maddison and all the players, we’re just at the beginning.
“Madders and Sonny [Son Heung-min] and [Cristian] Romero, who are the new leaders of this group, are going to play an important role in that. I keep saying it’s their dressing room. It’s got to be driven by them.”