Giant Yves Bissouma statement made after 'silly' Tottenham decision and Ange Postecoglou role


Antonio Conte was 'silly' in his treatment of Tottenham midfielder Yves Bissouma, Rio Ferdinand has claimed. The Mali international is already well over half way to matching his minutes in the league compared to last season and has been a transformed player so far this term after a poor first year in north London.

Signed to great fanfare last summer Bissouma arrived at Spurs as a hugely influential player following his impressive displays at Brighton under Graham Potter, the 27-year-old only featured in 23 league games, starting just 10. With the second half of the campaign plagued by injury he has looked like a new player this time round.

Of those that have benefited from Ange Postecoglou's arrival Bissouma is perhaps highest on the list due to just how much his stock had dropped in the past 12 months. Now, under new management, Bissouma is a truly integral part to the Tottenham side that have started the season brilliantly and entered the weekend just one point of first placed Manchester City.

Although they also got off to a good start last year without Bissouma being involved, there has been a paradigm shift in terms of atmosphere and attitude at the club. Central to that has been the work done in midfield between Pape Matar Sarr and Bissouma as well as James Maddison further forward.

Such is Bissouma's impact on the side he leads the squad in terms of passes completed, passing distance covered, tackles, interceptions, touches, carries and progressive distance covered on the ball. It is no surprise, therefore, that he is being spoken about in such high esteem.

Talking ahead of the meeting with Luton Town at Kenilworth Road, Peter Crouch and Ferdinand discussed Bissouma with the former Tottenham forward putting an argument forward for him being the best player of the season so far. It is quite the statement to make, especially with Maddison himself taking so many of the plaudits since arriving from Leicester.

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However, Bissouma's performances so far have been too great to ignore and he is ranked in the top 10 across the league when it comes to fouls drawn, progressive carrying distance, successful take-ons, touches, interceptions, tackles won, passes into the final third and dribblers tackled.

It is a far cry from the way that Conte used him last year in a double-pivot in front of defence. The Italian's more restrictive and passive approach limited his on-ball ability. Only months after joining, the former Chelsea, Inter and Juventus manager said: “The only player that is struggling a bit with the tactical aspect is Bissouma, but also he is improving a lot in every aspect.

“I am sure when we start again and play 12 games, for sure he is another player I can count on but I try to take the best decision for the player because I want to protect the player.“ He then added: "Also the midfielder is a specific role for us, with the ball and without the ball. It’s not simple. I ask for some moments, some positions. They have to be a point of reference in every moment of the game.

“The midfielder for sure, to go into our idea of football is maybe the most difficult position, but we are talking about a player that has great skill, good running. With the ball he’s really good, defensively he has to pay more attention.

“More attention because especially we only have two midfielders and then they have to be good with the ball and without the ball, but I’m really happy with his signing.”

Compare that to the way that his new manager speaks about him and it is night and day. "I don't know whether I have done anything specific with him," the Australian told talkSPORT last month. "With all the players, it is about creating an environment, sometimes when you have had a disappointing season, you can blame the manager in the past.

"Ultimately, I said to all the players, it is about them now, you never start with a clean slate, but you can start with an opportunity to take hold of your career. Show me what you can do, and be the best you can be. I was lucky because Biss [Bissouma] was here from the first day I arrived.

"Many of the boys were playing international football, and I kind of grabbed him. The way he was training, at the time, the first three or four sessions, we mainly had young guys. I said 'you can be a leader in this group'. I already knew of his ability, and the way he was training, I could see he got a lift with that.

"He was late the next morning, and I said 'to be a leader means to be on time', and he has been good since then. So, there is always lessons to be learned, but I think with him and all the other players, it is about creating an environment and framework to say, 'well you should not have any excuses'."

Although Ferdinand wasn't as on board with the early player of the season shouts, stating the need for consistency across a larger period than just two months, Bissouma's rise to prominence once more has been one of the big stories of the season. Postecoglou and all involved be hoping that it is simply the start of even more to come.

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