Amidst all the talk of Tottenham Hotspur's central midfielders, the one name that has not been brought up all that much is Nabil Bentaleb. Last season he was an anchor in Spurs' central midfield alongside Ryan Mason, but after a tumultuous offseason and an even worse 2015-16 campaign that saw him sidelined with injury, the young Algerian international has barely sniffed the pitch this season, leading to speculation that he might be sold.
Now, according to Dan Kilpatrick at ESPN, reports from the club suggest that Bentaleb will not be sold this summer and will be given a chance to regain a spot in Tottenham's starting 11.
In Spurs' first four matches this season, Bentaleb started two of them (including a horrific performance in the opening match at Old Trafford) and came in as a reserve for Ryan Mason in the other two. Then, Bentaleb picked up an ankle injury in September, a knee injury in March, and apart from a brief cameo wasn't ever seen again. Bentaleb is now back to 100% fitness, but was well behind Spurs' other midfield options such as Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll.
Things weren't helped much last summer when reports from the club indicated that Bentaleb and his entourage were complicating a contract extension, one that Bentaleb eventually signed, and that it had soured his relationship with the club. There were rumors before the extension that Bentaleb was actively pushing to leave.
However, with murmurs in the media that Carroll is due for a free transfer exit and Mason could be sold this summer, ESPN is suggesting that Bentaleb will be given another chance, and that manager Mauricio Pochettino is pleased with the turnaround in Nabil's attitude and work ethic since his return from injury.
Bentaleb didn't impress in his short stint at midfield this season, but that doesn't mean that he can't still find a role with Spurs next season. The sample size from this season is pretty small, and it's not at all impossible that with a full offseason of training (and a presumable absence of Mason and Carroll) that he could find a niche. Mousa Dembele's four match suspension at the start of next season could also provide an opening for Bentaleb to make a case for himself.