Not so long ago, Moussa Sissoko’s career prospects at Spurs were pretty bleak. The Frenchman revealed in May how he’d fallen out with manager Mauricio Pochettino, bemoaning what he called “the worst season of his career.” At that point, it seemed unlikely that Sissoko would ever play for the Argentine again.
Four months later and the situation has changed, remarkably. Sissoko has become a valuable member of the Spurs squad, as demonstrated by his performance against West Ham on Saturday. The 28-year-old was a driving force in the 3-2 win over the Hammers, underlining the turnaround in his fortunates at the North London club. Pochettino wouldn’t dream of selling Sissoko now.
Of course, technically he’s still not a first team figure for Spurs. Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min embody the spirit of Pochettino’s side better than Sissoko, but Spurs need depth and the French international is finally offering that. That’s significant in a season they are expected to compete both domestically and on the continent.
READ MORE: Liverpool ready for Coutinho transfer talks
A lack of depth let down Spurs in the Champions League last season as they crashed out at the group stage, finishing third in their group. Sissoko gives Pochettino a different dimension. It wasn’t that his signing last summer was necessarily a bad one, it’s just that he didn’t appear to have a place in the Spurs squad, a role to fulfil. That has changed over the summer.
“Sissoko and Dembele have different characteristics,” Pochettino said after the weekend win over West Ham, explaining the differences between his attacking options. “We had Christian [Eriksen] and Sissoko, who can go forward on the right side to stretch the opponents. I feel happy in the way we changed and played. I think Sissoko was fantastic today.”
Spurs are expected to win something this season. Pochettino has enjoyed great success since making the move to North London from Southampton, turning Spurs from pretenders to contenders. But the Argentine has nothing to show for that progress so far. By the time the second half of the season comes round, Spurs will have gone a decade without lifting silverware. If that doesn’t change under Pochettino, it will go down as a black mark on his record.
READ MORE: How would Dele Alli fit in at Real Madrid?
READ MORE: Conte already planning return to Italy
Sissoko is the type of player who will help him win a trophy. Maintaining a competitive front across all competitions, depth is required, and what’s more Pochettino requires a variety of different options. It might have taken a while to come to the surface, but Sissoko is finally delivering in that respect.
Moussa Dembele is still recovering from injury, with Alli serving the second of a three-match European ban and Victor Wanyama also struggling for fitness, meaning Spurs will be somewhat depleted for Wednesday night’s Champions League clash against APOEL Nicosia. “We need to assess in the next few days,” Pochettino said of Dembele.
“We don’t know if it’s possible for him to be available to go to Cyprus. And then we’ll see about Huddersfield. We need to check him every day. Maybe in the next few days, we’ll take some decisions with the medical staff.” For the time being, Sissoko will continue to be an integral figure for Spurs. They need him to be.
The Frenchman still has some way to go before he can be considered a true Pochettino player. There were times against West Ham when the 28-year-old was slack in possession, giving the ball away too cheaply. He is still a work-in-progress, but if Sissoko has come this far in the space of a year, how much further could he go? Perhaps not even Pochettino knows the answer to that.