Tottenham Hotspur made the transfer of midfielder Yves Bissouma from Brighton official on Friday, and while the news was not dramatic or surprising, the signing itself was.
The first news of the Malian midfielder came out on Tuesday, and at no point over the next several days did the signing look in doubt. As he inched forward, hints dropped throughout the week from Bissouma’s network of associates. Sure enough, Bissouma had his medical on Thursday, and on Friday, he was announced.
Thus, while the official announcement was somewhat anticlimactic, the transfer was surprising and dramatic for Tottenham, showing a fundamental shift in philosophy. In doing so, Spurs will help one returning midfielder in particular.
Tottenham had a solid defensive midfield before Bissouma and more significant areas of need.
On paper and in reality – assuming they are all healthy – Tottenham already boasts three workhorse midfielders. Pierre Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur, and Oliver Skipp have averaged 44 appearances and nearly 3,400 minutes over the last two seasons. Even with the likely sale of Harry Winks, Spurs have the deep midfield covered.
Thus signing a player in an area of existing strength is where things are a bit different from previous summers for Tottenham. With a position relatively stable, priorities are typically focused elsewhere, and going from good to great was not the approach. However, adding a Premier League proven talent like Bissouma to an already solidified position, creating both competition and depth, shows this is a new day for Tottenham Hotspur.
Adding depth is good news for one overworked Spurs player in particular
Antonio Conte will determine the best midfield pairing as the season progresses. However, based on the last two seasons, one would have to think Hojbjerg would be the top returning Spurs midfielder to pair with Bissouma. That said, Hojbjerg might most lose some minutes from the addition of the former Brighton man.
Over the last two seasons, Hojbjerg has played 101 games and logged over 8,300 minutes for Spurs alone. During that time, we have seen some heroic performances as the Dane refused to quit on the team and forced his body to perform, likely when it should not have.
Now, with more options at his disposal, including an equally adept ball-recovery machine in Bissouma, Conte can afford to rest Hojbjerg more, leading to even better performance from the Danish destroyer.
Hojbjerg is likely to play at least six games during the World Cup on top of an already busy Spurs schedule, so a few days off will be vital for Pierre, and now Conte can afford to give them.
Whether it was recognition of those minutes or just an opportunity he could not pass up, Fabio Paratici adding Bissouma was a brilliant move for Spurs and Hojbjerg. Paratici covering a crack before it develops demonstrates that things are changing at N17. We will know how much change has occurred in the coming weeks.