An ode to (soon-to-be departing) Mousa Dembele

Discussion in 'Tottenham forum' started by Josh Bolton, June 18, 2018.

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  1. Josh Bolton

    Josh Bolton Active Member

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    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone /
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone /
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum /
    Retire the number 19 shirt, let the mourners come.

    “Dembélé Blues”
    , W H Auden


    I know what you’re thinking. Since when did esteemed 20th-century poet W H Auden pen a poignant verse chronicling the imminent departure of Mousa Dembélé from Tottenham Hotspur during the 2018 summer transfer window?

    OK, so I may have made some slight alterations to the 1936 masterpiece that is Funeral Blues — but only to convey how I’m reluctantly coming to terms with the Belgian’s anticipated exit from N17 in the coming weeks. (Not very well, obviously.)

    If you couldn’t tell already: I love Mousa Dembélé. There, I’ve said it. At the risk of death by bloggers’ backlash, Mousa Dembélé is the player who I’ve appreciated watching most in a Spurs shirt these past few seasons. When I see that Pochettino’s Spurs are cruising, to me, it’s Dembélé who’s behind the wheel.

    And now as prospective suitors from Naples, Turin and China (with £30m to spare) are granted the necessary access to woo our man south of London, I’m left to reflect on a player whose distinctive talent and inimitable style of play is like any other I’ve witnessed at the Lane.

    Yes, there are detractors — and rightly so. Seven goals in 171 games will hardly propel a player to legendary status and universal acclaim; his mercurial tendencies still have many supporters contemplating The Nature of The Beast even after six years at the club.

    It was back in August 2012 when Dembélé's Spurs career began. The then-Fulham man was acquired for £15m in the final days of the summer transfer window. Unenlightened folk had considered the Belgian a like-for-like replacement for Luka Modrić — the Croat having swapped his Lilywhite shirt for one of the Royal variety only two days prior.

    However, a playmaker’s quick-fix replacement a Dembélé does not make. The player had been on Spurs’s radar pre-André Villas-Boas’s reign. (The club’s spidey sense was tingling during the Harry Redknapp era.) It was Frank Lampard who alerted us; letting slip to old uncle 'Arry that a Mousa Dembélé of Fulham had proved his toughest opponent in the Premier League.

    With hindsight, perhaps Lampard feels as though Chelsea missed a trick by not signing Dembélé. Piet de Visser, personal advisor to Roman Abramovich, certainly thinks as much. The Dutch superscout, responsible for discovering the teenage talents of Neymar, Kevin De Bruyne, Ronaldo and Romário, still laments the Blues for not pursuing Dembélé — despite his glowing endorsement.

    "I fell in love with Mousa Dembele during the 2008 Olympics," recalled de Visser. "He's a world-class player, but [clubs] have often played him out of position. He's not a striker or a second striker, not even a number 10. He's at his best as a central midfielder, as an '8'.

    “He will never score 15 goals in a season, but he has a high work rate, a strong body and an excellent passing game. He's an all-rounder. Somebody with power, technique and staminaWith Fulham, against Chelsea, he once completely outplayed Lampard.”

    And the veneration doesn’t end there. Martin Jol (who managed Dembélé at Fulham) surmised: “[He] is probably the best player on the ball I've ever seen.” His current teammates — Alli, Dier, Rose, Winks, Wanyama —all name The Beast as Tottenham’s most talented when asked as much. High praise indeed.

    The love-in continues… Mauricio Pochettino has vaunted that his player is a “footballing genius”, even joking that “without Mousa Dembélé, [Tottenham] do not exist!” Pochettino also reiterated de Visser’s stance that coaches had misjudged the Belgian’s best position as an adolescent — a costly mistake that ultimately hindered Dembélé's development as a player.

    But my standout Pochettino quote regarding Dembélé are the comparisons to Maradona and Ronaldinho. Many misconstrued their desired effect: Pochettino wasn’t saying Dembélé was better, or even as good as the South Americans, just that — like Maradona and Ronaldinho — Dembélé's technique and approach to the game is so unique, so deft, that it can’t be mimicked or, more importantly, taught.

    And he’s right. There’s no other way to put it. Apart from, maybe, the assertion that Dembélé as an athlete is a freak of nature. To my mind, never has there been a player who can coalesce the stature and strength of double-decker bus with the grace and finesse normally reserved for a ballet dancer. When in full swing, he’s akin to a year 11 schoolboy holding off hounds of weedy year sevens as they attempt to reclaim their stolen ball at break time.

    But let’s take a break from the ode: why are we willing to sell (despite all of the above)? The answer comes down to long-term fitness, a probable pay day for the player and acceptance — an acceptance that Dembélé has given all he can for Spurs, and is deserving of his twilight years in the sun. (Pochettino and the higher powers at Spurs hold huge respect for Dembélé on the basis that he has played through the pain barrier on numerous occasions, this season in particular.)

    It's decided then: Dembele’s departure date approaches. But how will he be remembered by the Spurs faithful? For many, as a player who didn’t score or assist enough (although I do recall many saying the same about Modric before he left). For others, a great player who could, and should, have been even greater.

    Finally, back to Piet de Visser. The scout who “fell in love” with Dembélé. When other managers and scouts weren’t drawn to the midfield enforcer as he was, de Visser asked himself: “Am I crazy? Why can't anyone see it?” Well, de Visser, I certainly do see the beauty in the Beast. It's a shame others can't do the same.
    Last edited: June 21, 2018
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  2. Felon82 Well-Known Member

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    The best player to have never done anything memorable -


    For someone widely regarded as being so talented (me included) the fact he has won nothing and it's still up for debate what he actually does other than carry the ball well in safe areas is surely proof he's underachieved badly ?
    Gordon Mc and bruski like this.
  3. Edinspurgh Guest

    Dembers is routinely identified by other players as the best they have ever faced or played with. And on the evidence of last season, it's clearly much too early to be letting him go. He dominated and controlled things in that crucial series of games against Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus away. None of their high priced midfielders could get near to him.

    Who else have we got who can dominate midfield against the best? Or who have we been linked with this summer who has shown they can boss the best?

    Yes, bring in an understudy/ potential successor. But keep the moose and nurture him snd it will pay dividends for several more seasons to come.
    Bazza47 likes this.
  4. Yes ... but Guest

    Dembele is a unique powerhouse. It's nonetheless baffling how smoothly he flattens or twists past players in midfield yet so rarely does the same in the opposition penalty area.
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  5. Big fran Guest

    Everyone has a right to an opinion but I've got to admit that I would have to question anyone who does not acknowledge how good a player the mousse is to what they actually know about football or their understanding of the game. His stats in terms of goals and assists aren't great but when teams are put together each player will have its own attributes and qualities that when combined with that of the other players will come together and ultimately define how successful a team is.
    For all that say sell him he's had his day this that and the other.. Realistically who do you bring in.? Could anyone name 5 better centre mids who we could sign tomorrow?
    Bazza47, Remy Uwilin and Josh Bolton like this.
  6. barney Guest

    amen to that Big fran
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  7. Josh Bolton

    Josh Bolton Active Member

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    I'm not sure you can judge a player's ability on the trophies he has/hasn't won. If that was the case: then Scott Carson would be considered a better goalkeeper in Europe than Buffon because he's won a CL; Luke Chadwick better than Gerrard because he's won the PL; Danny Drinkwater better than Dembele because he's won the PL etc etc.

    His ability to carry the ball and control the midfield are actually his standout qualities. In an era when football is all about the high-press, players who are "press resistant” and keep things ticking over in the midfield are a rarity and often under appreciated. Look how long it took the football world to fully appreciate Sergio Busquets — and he'd won everything.

    I do agree with you that Dembele hasn't hit the heights of the game someone of his ability should have, though. Whether that's down to individual mentality, injuries or being wrongly utlitised by managers through his career are all up for debate.

    I think that like Ledley King (although Kings was solely down to injury) if we had seen Dembele consistently at his best for Spurs, he would've been on the fast track to Barca/Real.
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  8. Felon82 Well-Known Member

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    To be fair Josh you've picked a selection of bad players that mainly were reserves in teams that had Gerrards Keane's etc in that scooped up Trophies (Barring Drinkwater they weren't even bit part players in those sides).
    Dembele however has been a mainstay at Spurs and Great Players Drive their teams on when the Chips r down or Results are needed other than a handful of what can only be described as 'strong in possession' performances he's mainly been rather anonymous, completely lacking in conviction and Winning mentality.

    Like I say I rate his technical ability very highly which is why it's so criminal, for me he's wasted his talent and all the ifs buts and maybes are just proof of that.
    Josh Bolton likes this.
  9. Remy Uwilin

    Remy Uwilin Active Member

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    I think we all agree that technically he's greatly gifted, and also that he didn't reach his full potential. I think there's enough blame to go around, on himself and also some of the managers he's had. Poch has said it on numerous occasions, that he wished he'd have coached him when he was younger...I believe if he's talent was nature well at a younger age he could have gone on to be one of the greats.

    Despite all that, here's where I fall on the topic. The player whom we've watched these last couple of seasons or so has given us great joy and helped propel our whole team in this new era. Yes, it is unfortunate that we haven't own anything yet we are consistently within the margins. The culture of our team has been transformed and the future is very bright. Dembele still has more to offer to our team, he's not done yet.
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  10. antony Active Member

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    Nailed it!
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  11. antony Active Member

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    Has anyone asked why this debate is going on! We are debating the potential sale of Dembele because THFC are considering selling him! Why? The why for me being that they know the boy Mousa is coming to the end of his career and cannot continue to do what he does for us for the next 2-3 seasons.
    I have not read one post that slates Dembele. We all agree and "appreciate" his talent and what he does for the team, and any negativity is from seeing such a talent not being able to take the next step, bag 10-12 goals a season and become World Class as a result!
    Does anyone really think Poch would let Mousa go if he believed he had another 2 full and productive seasons left in him!! But what do I know!
  12. Bazza47

    Bazza47 Well-Known Member

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    I too love the Beast Josh. I know why we are selling him, but I wish we weren't. I still have in my mind his performance away to Juve last year....and I feel he was great for us last year, not merely as a team contributor, but as a delight to watch.

    Sure I'd have liked more goals, but I'll settle for what I've had the pleasure of watching over his time with us and particularly these past thee seasons. Different class for me and will be sadly missed. Would have been great to see him grace the pitch at NWHL.
    Josh Bolton likes this.
  13. DangerHereDuce

    DangerHereDuce Member

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    I'd just like to add my two cents of praise for Moussa. I never really appreciated him fully until this season, and even more so after watching him in person in the home leg against Juventus.
    Fair enough, a bad result in the end, but in that first half Juventus couldn't get near us and a big part of that was Moussa. Seeing him in the flesh, receiving the ball with 3 Juventus players on him, only to see him wriggle his way out and keep possession was something else.
    I really think it's madness to even contemplate letting him ago, unless there can be a guaranteed top quality replacement on the way.
  14. antony Active Member

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    Ndombele the French boy at Lyon has been linked? Didn't/don't know much about him and we know youtube can make anyone look good, but I for one was impressed.

    35mill 21-22 years old.
    Felon82 likes this.
  15. Cheshuntboy Guest

    I watched the first half of the Belgium Costa Rica match yesterday, and couldn't understand why Dembele was only on the bench; the half-paced purposeless possession so-called 'football' Belgium were playing would have suited him down to the ground - such a waste.
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  16. Felon82 Well-Known Member

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    Liked what I've seen of Pione Sisto of Denmark & Celta Vigo, has good pace, control, vision/awareness.
    Linked up well with Eriksen.
    At 23/24 could be a good acquisition imo a lot more direct and influential than both Lamela or Sissoko
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  17. Big fran Guest

    Back taking punts tho aren't we felon
  18. Felon82 Well-Known Member

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    Let's be real Fran as much as you and I would like to see ready made players arrive with our Board & Manager it ain't gonna happen. (Especially in the 25day scramble after the WC)

    What's the incentives for any player from the Top European Clubs to come to Spurs?

    We don't win things, we don't pay going rate for top players either in Transfer fees or Wages........

    It's what we Need to do but won't!

    I suggest we cut our losses with Dross aquisitions Sissoko Lamela Llorente Jannssen N'koudou Onamah Aurier etc and look for some decent improvements that actually will push and offer more to the 1st team. In turn upping the output.

    With Sisto above I was just saying he'd be a decent punt , 9 assists 5 goals Danish international 23/24 is a starter in laliga.

    Hes not "the next......." Or has lost his way somewhere.

    Is Spurs/Premier League a step up for him ?
    Can he link with Eriksen?
    Is he a better more direct returning player than Lamela/Sissoko/N'kodou?
    Will his fee & wages/age suit our Buisness model?
    European/International Experience?

    I'd say yes to all the above.

    In fairness all signings are a punt to a degree , but I've thought he looks worth it so was merely a suggestion.

    Unless Bale Ronaldo Messi are available at reduced prices of course
  19. antony Active Member

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    Lets move out some of the deadwood (Lamela, Lorente, N'Koudoun, Jannsen etc) + Dembele if Poch thinks that's right? Keep Toby/Danny with improved contracts and go and get a couple of realistic (Spurs/Poch) type targets like Loftus-Cheek and Gray at Leicester + back-up for H?
  20. Big fran Guest

    Not having a pop or nothing just stating what you say we are bk to gambling on players same as nkoudou njie chadli who probably all came with extensive scouting and player profiling. Dare I even say it lamela who came as a golden boy and looked a potential world beater. If we don't get top class players I'd prefer English or prem proven. Vardy would be ideal and some may disagree but Jay Rodriguez has a really good goal ratio from either flank and can play CF with pace. I work with lads who know him personally and he was very close to signing for Spurs before his bad injury at Southampton.
    We need to up our home grown quota so I'd be looking at the likes of Drinkwater Bertrand Smalling Jones Mawson who all have aspirations of being in and around the England set up and getting back in at some point. Callum Wilson another I like.
    As you state and any other reasonably knowledgeable likewise spurs fans will know we are looking at strengthen the squad rather than players who will improve the starting 11 which is set in stone unless we are prepared to pay upward of 50m per player and wages North of 120 grand.
    Josh Bolton likes this.

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