In recent weeks Spurs midfielder Mousa Dembele has received a lot of praise from football fans and pundits alike, even if it’s taken a fair bit of time to finally appreciate the work of the Belgium international. Mauricio Pochettino himself has described Dembele as a ‘genius’ and constantly raves about the player he works with day in day out. It’s also telling that his teammates often potray him as the best Spurs player despite having Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen in their ranks. This says a lot about a player that I as a neutral really enjoy watching and have admired for a while. What caught my attention is that amongst the late Dembele praise is that his critics argument is that he doesn’t have the statistics to back up being a top player. So, does Dembele need these numbers to illustrate that and does it put into question whether he really is all that?
First of all the former Fulham man does not have statistics that make for good reading even as a central midfielder. Not a single goal or assist to note this season and a WhoScored.com rating of just 6.78 this campaign. Many would argue that means Dembele simply can’t be classified as one of the best players in the league with those type of numbers, Paul Pogba who shares a similar position is always crucified for backing his price tag up with goals and assists so in many ways this should also apply to Dembele.
On the other hand you get certain players that aren’t fixated by statistics and the best example to use when also judging Dembele should be Kante. Everyone is now well aware about what the Frenchman brings to the team, his game is not about goals and assists and therefore it is clear to the naked eye about the ability and performances of the Chelsea man. Even more so when fans use statistics to degrade a player should the argument of one of our finest players in recent history be used, Andres Iniesta.
The Spanish wizard only has 56 career goals and his assist stats are always terribly low for someone who has been instrumental for years, a player that it is clear to see has a major impact on his side and his qualities are unquestioned. While Dembele will never reach the heights of the World Cup winner and that is no disgrace, his ability to drive past a man and open the game up has a degree of similarity, although this may not end up going down as an assist, the consistency to the performance and build up of attacks can be far more important in the big picture.
I believe Dembele is a top Premier League player and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. I would place him in the top 6/7 places in his position in the league without a doubt and he is often key for how Spurs play. Of course a player of his ability should find more goals in his game but it’s always far more valuable to look at the role he plays in that Spurs side and whether he carries it out well and he does. Playing from deep, protecting the ball with strength and building attacks for the likes of Eriksen is what Dembele does well. The insignificance of his lack of numbers is even greater when he has teammates like Eriksen and Son who are the ones that play the killer balls into Harry Kane. Spurs have impressed in recent seasons because each player has fulfilled a role to create a balance under Pochettino, Dembele’s one is to dictate the midfield and that he does so in my opinion there shouldn’t be a sudden emphasis on the player to score more goals or gain more assists, he doesn’t need the numbers…
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featured image credit Sky Sports