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Lucas Tousart could be the “Mousa Dembele replacement” Tottenham needs

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He’s young, versatile, and built like a brick wall. Sounds perfect?

Olympique Lyon v Everton FC - UEFA Europa League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

We at Cartilage Free Captain do transfer rumors often, and we do them well. But sometimes it’s worth doing a deeper dive into Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer targets, what we call Daniel Levy’s Imaginary Shortlist. These are players that Spurs have either been linked to in the transfer window, or sometimes who they should be linked to as the club tries to improve to challenge for a Premier League title.

Today, we are taking a look at Lyon defensive midfielder Lucas Tousart.

The Basics

Name: Lucas Tousart
Age: 21 (29 April 1997)
Team: Olympique Lyonnais
Nationality: French (Arras, Pas-de-Calais, France)
League: Ligue 1
Primary position: Center Defensive Midfield
Other positions: Central Midfield

Fans of FIFA 18 should recognize Lucas Tousart as “that guy I always sign who shoots up to 91 in the midfield.” Built like a panzer tank at 6’1” (1,85m) and 183 pounds (83kg), Tousart made the move from Valenciennes FC to Lyon on deadline day in 2015. It took him just over a year of playing in their youth squad to get a chance at the senior squad and he hasn’t looked back, making 82 appearances across all competitions for the French side.

The Specifics

Lucas Tousart’s style of play is similar to what we see from most of Spurs current midfield, a mixture of Victor Wanyama’s destroying capabilities and Mousa Dembele’s strength to hold off challenges. In the following video, you see those skills on display. I want you to note especially at :22 and 3:52 with the highlights that follow those to see his abilities truly come out. I’ll also give you a volume warning as there is extremely loud techno music at the start of the video.

Tousart is the guy you can leave alone in the midfield and let him wreck attacks, or you can turn him loose as a box to box guy to feed into the attacking front. Most of his highlights do appear to be him playing the #6 position, but versatility is never a bad thing. WhoScored seems to like him as well:

Graphic: WhoScored.com

A passing success of 85% would fit nicely into this Spurs side along with a solid average rating around 7 across 50 matches. He’s not flashy, but that’s not what you need in the defensive midfield. You need results, and Tousart has shown that at the top level in France he can get the job done.

If you’re still not convinced that Tousart is ready for the next step, then read this article by Robin Bairner over at Goal.com back in 2017 that compares Tousart to Didier Deschamps and N’Golo Kante.

Just as Kante has expanded his repertoire at Chelsea this season, Tousart has become increasingly comfortable in the Lyon side while building a complete game.

No longer is he simply an energetic ball winner; he is increasingly looking a fine all-rounder and his goal against Monaco highlighted not only his improved ability to get forward and support his attackers, but also his surprising abilities in the air.

“He is a modest, hard-working young man who knows what he wants. His profile matches the modern holding midfielder: skilful and physically strong. He is a great team player who embodies the values we want to pass on at this club, namely humility and enthusiasm,” Lyon Under-19 boss Joel Frechet explained.

That is quite high praise from Frechet, who had a long career as a player from 1981 until 1998 in France. A modest, hard working player who wants to wreck players with his strength?

For lack of a better phrase for this player: Gimme gimme.

The Verdict

Likely price: £30-35m

Chances that the valuation is wrong: A very high chance. Lyon signed him to an extension last year that locks him up through the 2022 season, meaning Lyon have a lot of leverage in any deal.

Team’s willingness to sell: 50/50. His market valuation is only going to improve as Lyon managed to qualify for Champions League next year. Unfortunately it means that there isn’t that extra piece to dangle in front of him to get him to move. Lyon’s problem is that they can’t pay the wages of other clubs and Tousart is reportedly only on €30k/week. Tousart has been linked to Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Juventus and PSG in the past six months, meaning if he wants to move he’s going to have his choice.

Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Tousart can immediately slot into the rotation in the midfield pivot, at least at the #6. The question is whether or not he can play the #8 on a regular basis. If he can, then this is no-brainer purchase.

Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Spurs have been linked to him since January, with the last report coming in April that mentioned Arsenal and PSG in the same breath. Spurs have shown in recent years that they’re willing to spend to get a player of need, and Spurs need help in the midfield. I’d say if he pushes for a move, Spurs are going to be very involved in trying to win his services.

Grade if this transfer goes through: A. It fits a need for the club by bringing in a young, energetic destroyer in the midfield.