Tottenham star tipped to start and make big impact in NL derby tells Conte why he couldn’t, claims reporter

Djed Spence; Yves Bissouma Tottenham

A Tottenham star who was strongly tipped to start Saturday’s north London derby defeat to Arsenal reportedly told staff that he was not fit enough to feature in the starting XI.

Antonio Conte spoke on the Friday before the game about his temptation to tinker with his normal 3-4-3 formation and play an extra man in middle to match up with the table-topping Gunners.

And with Dejan Kulusevski injured that man would almost certainly have been Bissouma.

The Mali star has so far struggled to force his way into Conte’s first team. Indeed, the Spurs boss admits Bissouma has been struggling with the tactical aspect of what he wants from his central midfield players.

Sunday would have been the perfect opportunity to finally showcase his unbelievable qualities to Conte and the Tottenham fans.

Indeed, BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas was pushing for Bissouma to start prior to the game. The former Spurs star feared his old side getting dominated centrally, which turned out to be an accurate assessment.

However, Sky Sports journalist Michael Bridge has revealed that Bissouma told club staff he wasn’t fit to start just 24 hours before kickoff.

Bridge too far for Bissouma

Football.London also states that the former Brighton man was set to get the nod against the Gunners. However, he returned from international action with a ‘physical problem’.

And Bridge said: “Now I understand Bissouma told Conte’s staff he was suffering a bit of muscle fatigue after international duty last Friday.

“If that formation change did happen, one of [Heung-Min] Son or Richarlison would likely drop to the bench.”

Bissouma did actually impress from the bench when Conte switched to a 3-5-2 in the 6-2 rout of Leicester.

The 26-year-old generally played in that formation at The Amex before his £25million summer switch.

Bissouma could get a chance to start in Tuesday night’s Champions League clash at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Both Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg looked off the pace against Arsenal. To that end, Conte could decide to rest one of his normal midfield duo. And that would give Bissouma a chance to stake his place for a regular run in the side.

Tottenham can’t afford Bissouma transfer bust

When Yves Bissouma joined Tottenham over the summer it was a transfer that was viewed as a big coup for the club.

The midfielder had been outstanding at Brighton, particularly in games against Tottenham, and his £25m fee was a snip. But Bissouma cannot force his way past Bentancur and Hojbjerg in that Spurs engine room.

On what he has shown in the past, Bissouma is the best central midfielder on the club’s books. To that end, Conte should be looking to build his side around him and let him boss games – as he did regularly at Brighton.

That’s been a major issue for Tottenham this season, they do not dominate in the middle of the park.

So to have a player sat on the bench that could change all that will be frustrating for many.

It would be a complete disaster for Spurs if Bissouma ends up being a bust and is sold in 2023.

And you can bet that if he did leave he would be exceptional wherever he goes next.

READ MORE: Antonio Conte makes finding Lloris successor a ‘priority’, with two targets identified