For the first time this window, we have a transfer rumor about a player leaving Tottenham Hotspur whose name isn’t Harry Kane or Dele Alli. Predictably, it’s stupid.
Italian rumor mongers Corriere dello Sport is suggesting that AC Milan may make a move for Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele, who with what one assumes with a straight face, reports is “no longer in [Mauricio] Pochettino’s graces.”
The implication is that Dembele, who is now 30 and is showing signs of age catching up to him, is dissatisfied with his playing time at Tottenham and is no longer keen to extend his contract past 2019, which is when his current deal expires.
OK, so look — ask any Tottenham fan about Moose and they’ll probably tell you that they love him to bits, but they also know that he’s at the age where we should expect declining returns from him. He’s already showing signs of brittleness, as he’s been dogged by injuries the past couple of years. It’s not difficult to think that, if Spurs are able to find a suitable midfield replacement, Dembele could agree to a transfer this summer if Spurs want to get a little cash back for him and he’s ready for a new challenge.
However, the implication that Pochettino no longer favors him is, well, patently ridiculous. Pochettino is on record as calling Moose “a genius” and when he’s healthy has favored him in Spurs’ midfield. The issue isn’t that Dembele is no longer in Pochettino’s plans. The issue is that he’s openly admitted to having a long term muscle issue that never really goes away, and it appears his body is no longer able to perform at the same level that he did a couple of years ago.
Moreover, if this season has taught us anything it’s that Spurs do not really have the midfield depth to compete on multiple fronts this season. Already this season Spurs have had to roll out a central midfield pairing of Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko, and Christian Eriksen has even deputized for a bit in central midfield. Dembele is still a first choice midfielder when he’s fit. Selling him in January would actively hurt Spurs during a time when they’ll need him to stay in top four contention.
Like all transfer rumors, there’s probably a grain of truth somewhere in it. There likely is a scenario where Mousa Dembele is sold before his Tottenham contract expires. But it won’t happen this January, it won’t be to AC Milan, and it DEFINITELY won’t be because Dembele is no longer in the “good graces” of Mauricio Pochettino. Even when he’s not 100%, he’s simply too important to the way Tottenham plays.