On June 23, Tottenham Hotspur announced their first major signing of the season: Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama. Victor signed under a 5 year contract and, without add-ons, his move to North London could cost as much as $13.4 million.
Wanyama’s appointment to the Spurs should excite fans. His strong leadership qualities as well as his ability to play box-to-box or holding adds versatility and squad depth to an already powerful Tottenham team. Wanyama made 30 BPL and 3 Europa League appearances for Southampton last season and contributed a goal.
With Victor Wanyama’s addition, as well as the seemingly exponential rise of midfielders Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele, what will happen to Nabil Bentaleb?
Bentaleb, who made his Tottenham debut in the 2013/14 season under former boss Tim Sherwood, first came off as an extremely promising prospect. He consistently received playing time and he seemed to fit well in Sherwood’s system. Nabil also played a key role for Vahid Halilhodzic’s Algerian team in the 2014 World Cup. The Fennec Foxes went on to lose to eventual winners Germany in extra time in the round of 16.
However, as the Mauricio Pochettino experiment progressed, and with several ankle and knee injuries keeping him out for months, Bentaleb had only made two Premier League starts for Tottenham last season, contributing a total zero goals and zero assists.
Several major factors led to Pochettino’s lowered usage of Bentaleb, most obviously the revelation of Eric Dier, who so expertly dominated the center of the park for the Spurs. Dier’s ability to drop deep and spread the central defenders while transitioning the play from defense to attack was crucial to Tottenham’s title campaign. The young English international also created invaluable chemistry with teammates Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Also, Nabil’s poor loss of possession in the season opener against Manchester United led to a Kyle Walker own goal, and the eventual loss of three valuable points which could have played an enormous factor in the title race against Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City.
With a very large squad depth at center midfield, Tottenham are willing to get rid of the Algerian youngster. However, things don’t seem so terrible for Bentaleb. With the transfer market heating up and speculations rising quickly, Serie A side Napoli are ready to pick up Bentaleb, where he could join up with compatriot Faouzi Ghoulam. Crystal Palace are also interested in the holding midfielder, hoping to add some depth to an already sturdy midfield containing the likes of Australian star Miles Jedinak and former PSG and Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye.
With Tottenham aspiring to challenge for the title next season, Pochettino and company are determined to establish the perfect team that works with the Argentinian mastermind’s system. Will Bentaleb fight for his spot and attempt to climb up the pecking order, or will he make a move this summer?
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