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Report: Tottenham one of three clubs interested in Yves Bissouma

Solid player, but there’s a HUGE cloud over his head.

Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

So here’s something. Rodrigo Bentancur might not be the only defensive midfielder Tottenham Hotspur are in for this month. There’s a new report from French journalist Fabrice Hawkins that suggests Spurs are one of three clubs interested in signing Yves Bissouma from Brighton & Hove Albion.

Yves #Bissouma could leave Brighton. Three clubs are trying to sign him: Aston Villa, Tottenham and Manchester United. The discussions are intense. Brighton are asking for at least 45 million euros.

First, let’s discuss this on purely footballing terms — Yves Bissouma is a hell of a player. He’s been a big part of what Graham Potter has been able to achieve with Brighton the past couple of years. He’s used to playing in a 3-4-3 formation as the deepest of the central midfield pair. He’s got a big engine, is a plus passer, is EXCELLENT in the press, and isn’t afraid of a good tackle. He’s comfortable with the ball at his feet and is one of the lynchpins of Potter’s ball progression with Brighton. In most circumstances I’d be absolutely giddy with delight that Spurs are linked with him.

But there’s a problem — in early October Bissouma was arrested under suspicion for his role in a incident of sexual assault that took place at a Brighton nightclub. Details of what happened are sketchy at best and it’s pretty difficult to find news updates or details about what has happened or what is happening. Everything seems to be held under a shroud of secrecy. It is also vitally important to note that he has not been charged or convicted. But it’s also not at all clear that he’s been cleared of any suspicion of wrongdoing. It should be noted that he has been playing for Brighton regularly since the end of October and was cleared to leave with Mali to participate in the African Cup of Nations. In short, it’s a huge cloud that, barring any official statement to the contrary, is still hanging over his head.

I am not here to judge or to cancel Yves Bissouma over what may or may not have happened, only to state that this is a THING and it should be part of the conversation. One would hope that any club that was interested in signing him would be fully updated on his situation and would feel comfortable making that decision with full knowledge of his status. However, I’ve been following football for long enough to know that isn’t always the case — Manchester United’s uncritical signing of Cristiano Ronaldo is Exhibit A.

Bissouma’s a fantastic footballer, but that’s a lot of money, especially for a player who may still be credibly linked to sexual assault. There’s a lot we don’t know, not just about Bissouma but also how serious the links are between Spurs and Brighton for him and we should absolutely hold judgement. However, if Spurs are serious about Bissouma and decide to move for him, I would expect, nay DEMAND, that the club issue a statement clarifying what they know about his status and reassuring supporters that they have done their due diligence. Anything less would be unacceptable.