When Tottenham Hotspur swooped for Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko on deadline day in the summer of 2016 for £30 million, many mocked before he had even kicked a ball in anger, implying that he was a waste of money. Since then much has happened to lead to the rebirth of Sissoko.
The French international seemed destined for Everton before Tottenham’s 11th-hour swoop. The transfer seemed rather odd, many did not see the languid Frenchman as a Spurs or Pochettino style player.
Sissoko himself struggled at first, in fact, his own manager Pochettino questioned his desire and attitude, his first season passed off with abject failure. The midfielder was in and out of the team and squad, labelled an expensive failure by most in the media and the Spurs faithful had not taken well to him.
Fast forward to December 2018 and Sissoko has earned himself a cult following. The jeers have been turned to cheers and Sissoko’s frown to a huge smile, the Frenchman is now a regular for his club and forced his way back into contention for the French national side.
The Tottenham midfielder is not an artisan of the game, he is not going to beat three players and score a wonder goal, or play a pass through the eye of the needle. What he will do is run all day, tackle, chase and harass. Break up attacks from the opposition and turn them at electric speed into attacks for his own side.
I have always been one of his biggest detractors, not seeing what he added to the team.
Moussa I owe you an apology. His performance on Tuesday in the Camp Nou against Barcelona showed his worth and more.
Lionel Messi, who was a substitute for the game, exploded on to the ball late in the game and with Tottenham’s chances of qualifying for the next round hanging by thread, the Barcelona star threatened to go on a mesmeric run – but Sissoko at this stage playing in the unaccustomed role as a right back, swiftly tackled him and lead Spurs on yet another break.
That moment encapsulated his underrated performance, which was full of energy, drive and maturity. His protection of young Kyle Walker-Peters was exceptional, his constant drives forward though at times lacking quality, no doubt changed the momentum of the game. Moussa, I applaud you.