Tottenham have added in-demand midfielder Yves Bissouma to their squad ahead of the 2022/23 season.
The Mali international has shone over the past few years at Brighton and had attracted interest from a number of Premier League sides, but it’s Spurs who have managed to secure his signature.
So, the question is: how will he fit in?
A two-man midfield has been Antonio Conte’s go-to at Tottenham and he’s unlikely to change that, given the need for both wing-backs and wide forwards in Spurs’ system.
It’s a tactic which Bissouma isn’t overwhelmingly familiar with, although Brighton did go to a 3-4-2-1 formation towards the end of the season as they put three goals past West Ham and Wolves, either side of trouncing Manchester United 4-0.
He has played as a duo in a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2 as well, so he should be able to figure things out fairly quickly.
Emerson (RM) – Bissouma (CM) – Hojbjerg (CM) – Perisic (LM)
Emerson (RM) – Bissouma (CM) – Bentancur (CM) – Perisic (LM)
With Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur both expecting significant minutes as well, Conte could opt to return to the 3-5-2 formation he used at Inter in 2020/21 and earlier in his career with Juventus and Italy.
Conte clearly likes this formation – there’s a case for it being his favourite – but the question he will have to ask is whether Tottenham have the depth in midfield to consistently use three players there.
Oliver Skipp deserves a significant role when he returns from injury, while Harry Winks is the only other central midfielder on the books. The latter didn’t start any of Spurs’ final 13 Premier League games and could be sold this summer.
With that in mind, Conte is going to need at least one extra midfielder, if not two, if he wants a permanent switch to the 3-5-2. That’s obviously unlikely, but don’t rule out seeing that formation in certain games.
Emerson (RM) – Bissouma (CM) – Hojbjerg (CM) – Bentancur (CM) – Perisic (LM)
With a 3-4-2-1 still the likely setup heading into the new season, Conte needs to make a decision about his midfield.
Hojbjerg and Bentancur were the preferred duo for Spurs’ rise back to the top four, and to immediately bench either would be incredibly harsh. That may mean that Bissouma, who is set to arrive for a relatively affordable fee, could spend a lot of time as a rotational player.
His energy could be decisive off the bench, with tiring teams likely to be terrified of coming up against him late in matches, so Conte may well prefer to keep the Mali international as a substitute.