In Focus: Bissouma is the perfect fit for Conte's system
Yves Bissouma has completed his move from Brighton to Tottenham for a reported initial fee of £25million.
With four years of Premier League experience under his belt, he is expected to make an instant impact and become a staple of Spurs’ midfield for years to come.
We take a look at how Bissouma, 25, will operate under Antonio Conte in North London after signing a four-year deal.
Bissouma has been instrumental in Brighton’s midfield since he made his move from Lille to the Premier League in 2018.
The Mali international helped guide Graham Potter’s side to the Seagulls’ highest ever top-flight finish last season and was one of the league’s standout performers in his position.
He mainly operates as a defensive midfielder while occasionally starting in a slightly more advanced position and his statistics from his last campaign speak for themselves.
Bissouma ranked seventh and eighth respectively for tackles and interceptions amongst all midfielders.
In the last two seasons, he completed 294 tackles and interceptions — more than any other Premier League player, which will make for great reading for Spurs fans.
It is Bissouma’s ability on the ball that also makes him a special talent as Potter’s system requires players to play through a high press — and he is certainly not afraid to make himself available for a team-mate under pressure.
Brighton’s former No8 likes to be progressive on the ball and drive forward, while he has the ability and composure to pick a forward pass to start an attack.
His technical skill and vision, as well as the physical attributes that make him so effective defensively, will undoubtedly improve Spurs’ ability to break down sides that set up in a low block.
Spurs like to play on the counter-attack, particularly against big sides.
Bissouma’s traits fit this system perfectly due to his ability to pick the right progressive pass in transition and also when building from the back.
Conte’s outfit have struggled to break down low blocks at times but have done well in threatening teams that play possession-based football — as both Manchester City and Liverpool failed to beat Spurs last season.
The Lilywhites were defeated at home against Brighton, with Bissouma running the midfield that afternoon, while he scored against Tottenham in a 3-1 defeat against his new club in the FA Cup.
In 2022, Spurs also dropped points against the likes of Southampton, Wolves, Burnley and Brentford, while they scraped a victory at Watford in the dying moments.
Each of those sides were able to sit back and frustrate Conte’s men, who were unable to find the cutting edge in midfield.
Bissouma's addition will give the Italian more confidence that his team can dominate and retain the ball with more comfort when building attacks.
As Bissouma can play in a defensive role and also in a more advanced position, both Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur will have to fight for their places.
But it is likely that the Dane’s spot in a first-choice XI is under more threat as the two are similar players.
Rising star Oliver Skipp, 21, missed the majority of last season through injury which left Conte feeling frustrated as the young Englishman has rarely put a foot wrong for the North Londoners.
Skipp will also provide competition in Bissouma’s position, although he is likely to feature from the start more often in cup competitions next season.
Future looking bright
Spurs fans have been crying out for quality depth in the squad as that is what it takes to win titles.
The club failed to replace the rare talent of Mousa Dembele as Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso’s arrivals have failed to work out.
Bissouma’s fee is a fraction of what it cost Spurs to secure Ndombele and Lo Celso and is the least risky signing of the three due to his Premier League experience.
It is clear the club are backing their manager in the transfer market and targeting his preferred options, securing Ivan Perisic for a wing-back role and a brilliant back-up goalkeeper option in Fraser Forster.
Their recruitment of Bissouma reflects the ambition of what Conte wants to achieve from next season — bringing long-awaited titles to the white half of North London.