With the arrival of Ange Postecoglou, there will have to be a reshaping of the Spurs squad. One of these areas that will change drastically is the midfield, particularly the use of a No. 8.
During Antonio Conte’s tenure at Spurs, we saw a rigid 343 being used on a regular basis.
With the two wingbacks operating in the wider areas, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur sat in the pocket. This formation became rigid after Bentancur ruptured his ACL, as he was the dynamo allowing Spurs to play out of the press.
Nevertheless, we start the season with Postecoglou, a dynamic manager who has a completely different philosophy from Conte’s. Postecoglou’s preferred formation is a 4-3-3, with a midfield consisting of a holding midfielder (No. 6) and two advanced midfielders (No. 8s.)
The No. 6 typically receives the ball deep and delivers passes to the full-backs or sharp inside passes to the two No. 8’s. At Celtic, Callum McGregor played this role perfectly. He was a trusted regular starter, and Postecoglou rewarded him with the captain’s armband.
At Spurs, there are multiple suitors for this role; one of the more overlooked choices would be Yves Bissouma. Bissouma was not necessarily used in this way at Spurs due to Conte’s philosophy and injuries.
However, he did play this role at Brighton. Against Spurs, he did this and led Brighton to a 1-0 victory, where he shone brighter than every player on the pitch. With his unique skill set, he was able to carve through the Spurs press. Postecoglou can only hope he can replicate this for Spurs next season.
Another option is Oliver Skipp; the young Spurs academy prospect could line up well in the No. 6 role. Despite his age, Skipp has plenty of first-team experience and has filled in for Bentancur since his injury.
The academy graduate has impressed both Jose Mourinho and Conte. Against West Ham and Chelsea, Skipp showed promise in playing this role due to his unpressable presence in those games.
At Celtic, Reo Hatate played this role, and he dominated the left-hand side for them. He was the more defensive No. 8 and dropped in next to McGregor when out of possession.
Hatate could be an option for Spurs, but this role will suit Bentancur as he can drive with the ball in possession, and his defensive qualities will shine when Spurs do not have possession.
One player that might suffer as a result of this system is Hojbjerg – none of the midfield roles particularly complement his style of play. Nevertheless, he will most likely start the season as the deeper No. 8 or No. 6 due to Bentancur’s injury.
The other No. 8 has a far more complex role, which was previously carried out by Matt O’Riley. During the press, O’Riley would push up next to the striker, therefore making a four-man press. Meanwhile, Hatate picks up the deepest midfielder.
Spurs don’t have a clear choice for this position, which will be an area they look to strengthen in the market.
Tanguy Ndombele and Giovanni Lo Celso are out on loan but are scheduled to return to Hotspur Way. Both could potentially take on this role; however, no recent manager has opted to keep them at the club, and it appears likely that they will both leave.
Another option would be the young talent, Gabriel Veiga. Despite only being 22 years old, he broke into the first team and has cemented his spot ever since.
He has played a variety of positions but almost always off the right-hand side, typically picking the ball up on the halfway line and driving goalward.
His perfect blend of elegance and speed has allowed him to torment defenders in La Liga, picking up 14 G/A for a side that only just survived the drop (Sofascore)
Veiga would be a tricky player to pry off Celta Vigo due to his being a “one-club man”. He does have a release clause in his contract, but it is a rather dear €40 million (via Fabrizio Romano).
It is highly unlikely that Levy would consider paying this much, but as a second option, it could be fruitful for Spurs.
A less expensive option could be Bristol City’s Alex Scott. The young lad from Bristol has not only impressed viewers of the championship but also Pep Guardiola after a stunning FA Cup performance. Scotts’ talents were further recognised when he was named The EFL young player of the Season.
Scott’s elegance on the ball and his pressing ability would fit perfectly in Postecoglou’s system as an attacking No. 8. Not only do his qualities shine, but he is also an avid Spurs fan.
James Maddison has been the clear choice for many Spurs fans, and it seems the board shares this opinion.
With Leicester’s relegation, there has never been a better time to pull the trigger on his purchase. It seems he will leave Leicester, but Spurs face competition from Newcastle (Via Fabrizio Romano)
The Spurs midfield will need some restructuring and an influx of money, but Postecoglou faced a similar problem at Celtic. Nevertheless, he was able to forge a midfield that dominated the league within a season of his arrival.
Have something to tell us about this article?