With Yves Bissouma only starting one match for Tottenham this season and rumours of ‘tactical indiscipline’ doing the rounds (FootballInsider), as well as Conte’s comments about the midfielder having a lot to learn about his system (FootballLondon), we wanted to speak to an expert. 

And who better to speak to than the founder of BHA Today, LetsTalkBHAFC podcaster, and freelance journalist, Charlie Haffenden who spent years watching Bissouma at Brighton?

When asked why Bissouma may be struggling for minutes under Conte, Charlie said:

Yves Bissouma hasn’t been in as many starting XIs as perhaps we would’ve expected – and this has been particularly noticeable from my perspective as a Brighton fan and journalist.

There was so much hype around his big-money move in the summer and rightly so – he was one of Albion’s best players for two seasons running, and only pipped to the Player of the Year award because of how tremendous Marc Cucurella was.

With his ability to break up play in the middle of the park and drive the ball forward – and on numerous occasions throughout every game – Bissouma can be crucial in winning midfield battles. His contribution was one of the key factors in Brighton earning a top-half finish last campaign.

Many people have been wondering – Spurs and Brighton fans alike – as to why Bissouma is yet to get a run of games at Tottenham. From my perspective, I think it could well be either one of two things, or a mix of both.

Either it’s something to do with the tactical side of things, with Bissouma not quite yet adjusting to Antonio Conte’s very demanding style of play, with the Malian potentially being a little stubborn with his own preferences (something that is definitely in his character).

Or it could be about a recurring issue Bissouma has been suffering with. Towards the end of his time at Brighton I was told by a source close to the player – say around January/February time – that he had been struggling with a knee problem for a long time but playing through it.

Albion were quite eager to sell if and when a club came in with a bid sizeable enough, but many teams didn’t want to take the chance on him given his knee issues. If this is still affecting Bissouma, it could well be to do with why we haven’t seen much of him just yet.

He can play through it – and we’ve seen him get the odd game – but can he put up with Spurs’ relentless fixture schedule? Maybe that could be the problem right there.

However, let’s also remind ourselves of the glowing review Charlie gave Bissouma back when he first joined Tottenham, and keep our fingers crossed that we will soon see peak Yves in action.

What are Bissouma’s key strengths and weaknesses?

Yves Bissouma is a proper box-to-box midfielder capable of being a right menace in the attacking third. But his best attribute is undoubtedly the overall energy he brings to a midfield, and his desire to win possession back for his teammates.

Brighton’s positive possession play quite often can lead to the ball being given away cheaply, but Bissouma being in the team made this far less of an issue. You’d have your heart in your mouth but then Bissouma would mop it up and start another attack. He’s exceptional at that.

In terms of weaknesses, I’d probably have to say the lack of consistent accuracy with long shots is up there. Don’t get me wrong, Bissouma can score an absolute belter from time to time, but – a bit like Thomas Partey at Arsenal – many fall way wide of the mark.

This is something he’s definitely improved on in the last few years though, and I’m sure he’ll only mature from now on.

How do you think he could fit into Conte’s back three/counter-attacking style?

I think he’ll fit in very well. Graham Potter’s favoured system is very similar to Conte’s and Bissouma has proven himself as a near-enough world-class player whilst playing within it.

He’s someone who will not only work the yards to win back possession, but he’ll drive forward too. With the likes of Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane and Dejan Kulusevski so lethal in the channels, Bissouma will speed up Spurs’ counterattacks even more.

Having his presence anchoring the midfield is great for wing backs, too. It means they can bomb forward with less worry as Bissouma will cover them more often than not. His tackle success rate speaks for itself really.  

Will Brighton be sad to see him go? Or was this just an inevitable step in his career?

Of course, it’s absolutely devastating to lose arguably your best player – it would be for any side – but even more so for Brighton given he’s so key to the way they operate. I think most Seagulls supporters are trying to see the positives with this deal, though.

£25m – around £30m with add-ons – for a player with 12 months left on his contract isn’t bad at all. A year or so ago he was probably worth double that, but you’d argue Albion wouldn’t have had a top-half finish without him.

I think it was worth keeping hold of him, and now is the right time to let him go. A sad goodbye, and a hell of a bargain for Spurs, but fond memories to look back upon.

Should Spurs fans be excited?

Yes is the simple answer, and I don’t quite think they’ll know just how good he is until he’s hitting the ground running in a Spurs shirt.

Bissouma is more than ready for the Champions League and I think he’ll be key in helping Spurs retain their place in the top four for years to come. He really is that good. There’s a reason the likes of Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United have been circling for so long.

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