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Moussa Sissoko called up to France national team


Sweden v France - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images

Amazingly enough, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Moussa Sissoko is actually starting to attract attention because of his... checks hand ... good play? After two seasons as essentially an expensive midfield pariah at Spurs, the spate of injuries to Tottenham’s midfield has meant that Sissoko has found a role as a CM. And, contrary to many of his appearances the past two seasons, he’s been, if not great, at least useful.

It’s enough, however, for Sissoko to get noticed by Didier Deschamps, who has called Sissoko along with Alexandre Lacazette up to the French national team as a replacement for Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.

So, this is obviously a good thing for Moussa, and he deserves congratulations for the achievement. It’s been a while since he has featured for France and was notably left off of the World Cup-winning roster. Sissoko has seemed to find a niche in the center of Spurs’ midfield that emphasizes the things he does well (progressing with the ball, dribbling, running in a straight line) while minimizing the things he does poorly (passing, shooting, decsion-making).

However, it feels like collectively Sissoko’s achievements have been overemphasized. Sissoko has set the bar ridiculously low after his first couple of seasons in north London, to the point where playing acceptable football that doesn’t actively hurt the team actually FEELS like he’s doing really well. He’s a useful midfielder! That’s new, and good! But there is not a world where he starts for Tottenham Hotspur in midfield when the rest of the team is fit and uninjured.

In recent comments to the media Mauricio Pochettino seemed to acknowledge both the difficulties Sissoko has had in his Spurs career and also praise his perseverance and work rate.

“Sometimes different players need a different amount of time to produce performances in the way that you want. “But by being honest, professional and always giving your best you can turn the opinion of the people. Quality is so important in football. But quality without effort, being professional and fighting for the team makes it difficult for a player to show that quality.

“Good thing can happen if you are a professional like Moussa and keep pushing and working hard. Sometimes when you feel the pain you keep your head up, keep pushing and keep working hard, that is the only way to get through it.”

I’m happy for Moussa. I’m skeptical that a couple of decent shifts in midfield has suddenly transformed him into a good footballer, but I’m also not going to discount his recent play, which has been... well, let’s call it fine. Sissoko is by all accounts a good person and a model teammate, and I’m glad he’s finally rejoining his national team. In the end, that’s really all that matters.