Spurs boss admits Moussa Sissoko stayed because no clubs wanted him
To everybody’s surprise, Moussa Sissoko was still at White Hart Lane when the transfer closed at the end of August.
Arriving from Newcastle as their record signing, the midfielder had a nightmare season, starting just eight Premier League matches and scoring no league goals and registering only one assist.
Mauricio Pochettino says that Moussa Sissoko was the first player to make clear he wanted to leave Spurs this summer, with a place in France’s World Cup squad a priority (ED: Something sounding familiar to Newcastle fans…).
Didier Deschamps had left the player out of his squad as Sissoko was getting so little football with Tottenham.
When it came to finding a new club, Pochettino says that the reality then became ‘maybe that possibility didn’t exist’, so both player and club are now trying to make the best of it.
Comparing Moussa Sissoko with Zinedine Zidane (there’s a first time for everything), the Tottenham manager says that new surroundings and the pressure of a big transfer fee can make it difficult for any player moving clubs.
With no club coming in for him, injuries helped Sissoko get a start in the opening Premier League game of the season against Newcastle.
The ongoing injury problems and change of formation by Pochettino, has also led to Moussa Sissoko coming back into the team and playing the last three Premier League matches after being dropped after the Newcastle match. He already stands on four PL starts this season from six matches, compared to eight from 38 last season.
A bit like Newcastle with many of their players, Spurs probably found it all but impossible to shift Sissoko due to his wages, poor form, and trying to claw back some of the laughable £30m fee they paid.
Back in the Spurs team and recalled to the France squad this week, can it last for Moussa Sissoko?
Mauricio Pochettino speaking to The Guardian:
“Moussa Sissoko was the first player interested to move or to leave (in the summer) because he wanted to play more in a season that has the World Cup at the end.
“But I think maybe that possibility didn’t exist and I was more than happy for him to stay and to give him the possibility to play.
“He didn’t play too much last season or not as much as he wanted and, always, the player is looking to move, to try to feel better and try to be important, maybe at another club.,
“In the end, when we decided to keep him and he decided to stay with us, it’s about moving on and seeing if he deserves to have the possibility to play.
“When we signed him, it was a record for the club and the expectations from the fans, the press, everyone, is massive. It is never easy to settle from the first moment and then it’s a struggle to play because there is a pressure of the transfer fee and it is so difficult. Even Zidane struggled at Real Madrid when he first moved from Juventus.
“Sometimes, you struggle to understand what the people expect from you and maybe that was a little bit longer (with Moussa Sissoko) than another player or what you maybe want or expect.
“But I think he understands better now what we want from him and he knows his team-mates better. They trust more in him. It is true we are playing in a different way maybe to last season and he feels more comfortable in that situation.
“He has improved his self-belief and that is so important. When you arrive in a new club and you don’t play too much and you struggle to understand why, it is normal that your self-belief starts to go down. It is so difficult to recover from that. But today, we are so happy and he is happy that he is doing well.”
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