After Tottenham spent the summer months ridding themselves of a large proportion of their oversubscribed central midfield, Mousa Dembele would have expected to feature far more prominently this season than he has done.
Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Benjamin Stambouli and Lewis Holtby all left White Hart Lane during the last transfer window, but the emergence of Dele Alli and, surprisingly, Eric Dier as reliable options for Mauricio Pochettino has marginalised Dembele’s involvement.
With Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason to return to the fold too, it’s hardly surprising that news of a deal to send the Belgian outcast to Napoli has been arranged.
Italian newspaper Tuttosport reported on the deal, suggesting the £10.3m switch will take place in January.
Injury has played a part in his stint on the sidelines this term, but the reality is Lilywhites lovers haven’t seen the best of the Belgian midfielder since his first season, when partnered with Sandro under Andre Villas-Boas in 2012/13.
Pochettino’s preference to work with younger players means the former Fulham man will find it extremely tough to break into the Argentine’s first-team plans on a regular basis now.
The variety of ways the current manager has used the midfielder also suggests he isn’t quite sure how best to fit him in; Dembele has played as a support striker, right winger and central midfielder under Pochettino.
If the fee being touted is accurate, then his sale would represent another piece of smart business from the north Londoners. The common theme with all of the recent sales at the club, has been a pleasing recuperation for players that have largely sat on the fringe of the squad.
Spurs recouped decent money for Paulinho, Capoue, Stambouli, Roberto Soldado and Vlad Chiriches this summer and would again come out of the Dembele deal well should they get around £10m for a player that isn’t threatening a first team spot.
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