Opinion: Six Tottenham players who will shine in the post-Conte era

With Antonio Conte’s era now at an end, it will be interesting to see how the squad takes shape before the start of the next campaign.

Who takes charge of the squad is unknown at this moment, but what we do know is that the profile of manager will be different: Conte was very one-dimensional and rigid with his team selection, tactics and profile of player to suit his needs, which left some serious talent on the periphery of the squad.

It also meant certain players were playing with shackles on, and we are yet to see the best of them. More fluid football, different systems and tactical diversity will see a change in the pecking order within the squad at Tottenham. And I am excited to see it…

Antonio Conte
(Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Bissouma:

We are yet to see the Bissouma we saw at Brighton in a Spurs shirt. He has been plagued by injury for the majority of the season, and when he has been fit he was played out of position.

At one stage Conte experimented by changing from his usual 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2, which saw Bissouma played as an anchor in between Holjberg and Bentancur.

This is where he saw most of his game time, and it was largely unsuccessful. He has not played in that role during his previous career, and it did not suit his strengths.

He is a physically dominant midfielder who likes to carry the ball, and is a good, progressive passer. He is not so good on the half-turn, and is better in a three-man midfield. His best position is on the left of a midfield three, where he played at Brighton.

To be fair to Conte, when Bissouma was given a chance, albeit out of position in a system that doesn’t suit him, he was still disappointing.

I think he may be the type of player that needs a manager’s full trust and an arm round his shoulder to give him the confidence to perform to his ability, and I really hope we see this under the next manager. It could be special.

Kulusevski:

Whilst Deki has been a revelation since joining Spurs, I can’t help but feel he still has a lot more to give. Constantly playing on the backfoot and on the counter, he is not able to get into the positions he causes damage in, at least not often enough.

If you look at his heatmap for this season (sofascore), you will see that he spends nearly as much time in his own half doing defensive work as he does at the top end of the pitch.

I would say only a maximum of 40% of his heatmap is in the final third, and if you compare this to a player like Saka, on the same side in a different system, he has spent nearly 60% of his time in the final third. In a more possession-dominant team, he would absolutely thrive.

He can drift infield, hang wide, work in tight spaces, and be a creative outlet from the right flank. Playing with Porro now too, instead of Emerson or Doherty, will also bring a noticeable improvement.

We saw how effective he could be at the end of last season, but this season he has dropped off slightly due to the style we have been playing. Under a more attack-minded manager he will shine, he is one of our most exciting prospects. Invest in Kulusevski stocks now!

Romero:

Romero is a top-quality centre-half. Yes, he can be rash and make stupid challenges, but he has been the glue in our defence this season.

I would also put a lot of his aggressiveness down to the system we play, and how far we drop off, because he has a lot less one on one situations and I honestly think he gets bored dropping off so deep. He goes searching for those duels and often gets booked out of frustration.

Watching him in the World Cup for Argentina, whilst he obviously didn’t lose that aggressive streak entirely, playing a high line in a back four meant he didn’t go searching for big challenges as much, and he looked a lot more comfortable. He thrives in stepping up and in one-on-one situations.

He reads the game well, is also very good on the ball and has all the attributes to be a great centre-half. In a back four that plays on the front foot he will be brilliant, and will only get better as time goes on.

We must sign an experienced, stable player to play alongside him.  In my opinion, someone like Laporte (if possible) would be perfect. Romero is one of my favourite players at the moment and I hope he stays with us for a long time.

Udogie:

From what I have seen of Destiny Udogie, he looks like he is going to be a big player for us over the coming years. He is rapid, has a good eye for a pass, is a good crosser of the ball, is strong and aggressive and will be coming with a desire to learn and grow as a person and a footballer.

The only slight concern I have is whether he can play in the same team as Porro, especially in a back four system, as both players are small and not the best in terms of physicality.

He will need time to adapt to the league as well, and that’s why I would bring back Reguilon as a good rotational option at fullback. I believe he deserves a second chance at the club.

I suspect a lot of fans are going to want everything all at once next season, they are going to want Porro and Udogie starting week in week out in a back four, with whoever else we sign shoved straight in to play alongside them. Patience will be key with these players, and a good balance will need to be found.

It might be a case of playing Emerson as a right back and Udogie on the left, with one sitting and one bombing on, as oppose to having two predominantly attacking fullbacks on the pitch at the same time.

I also believe it will be key for the new manager to be flexible and use a three-at-the-back formation at times too, as a lot of our defensive players are used to that system.

That is why I still believe Naglesmann is the best option for our next manager, as he is so flexible when it comes to systems and tactics. Udogie excites me, and I am looking forward to seeing how he adapts to the club.

Pape Matar Sarr:

Pape Matar Sarr is the player I am most excited about when it comes to our young prospects. He just has something about him. The way he played at the San Siro in the champions league was hugely impressive, and he should see more game time next season.

A loan move might be a good option for him, but I would really love to see our next manager give him a proper run in the team.

A three in midfield, with Bentancur at the base, plus Sarr and Bissouma either side, has my mouth watering. From what I have seen of Sarr, he is strong, is not afraid to get stuck in to his opponents, has quick feet to get out of tricky situations and has an eye for goal.

Comparisons that have been made between him and a young Yaya Toure really are not too far wide of the mark.   It’s going to be exciting to see if he can live up to all the hype.

In my opinion, it’s one of the best pieces of business we have done in recent years, and I am keen to see him play more.

Son:

Son will be back to the top of his game in the next year or two, mark my words. Conte made a huge error in how he chose to utilise Sonny, choosing to push him deeper and more infield to create space for an overlapping wingback.

No wingback in world football can replace a flying Sonny and, to add insult to injury, Perisic has been extremely lacklustre.

Maybe we are seeing a natural decline in his game, or a huge drop off in confidence, but a change of system will definitely benefit Sonny and would get him back into the areas of the pitch where he can be most effective.

Say what you want about Mourinho’s tactics, and trust me I had a lot to say, but he knew how to get the best out of Son (and of course Kane too).

It should be one of the new manager’s first priorities to put his arm around Son and instil the confidence and freedom back into his game that have made Sonny one of the best footballers to have played for the club in recent times.

I am not giving up on him, and neither should you. He has a knack for proving people wrong.

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