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BELGIAN GOAT

Mousa Dembele might well be the most unusual footballer ever

He doesn't create, he can't shoot and he never scores goals but Mousa Dembele will go down as one of Spurs' best midfielders ever

Mousa Dembele has yet to score in 1545 minutes of Premier League and Champions League football this season.

In the same time period he’s provided zero assists and been booked five times.

Dele Alli averages more tackles in the Champions League while Eric Dier has been outshining him when it comes to Premier League interceptions.

Moussa Sissoko has registered more Premier League assists and plays more key passes per game on average.


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It’s never a fair fight when Dembele is involved

Reuters
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It’s never a fair fight when Dembele is involved

In short, the statistics don’t make great reading for the Belgian.

But that’s exactly why he’s one of the most unusual footballers to play the game.

Dembele will, without doubt, go down as one as the best midfielders in Spurs’ history

A brutally dominant display against Juventus was just the latest emphatic midfield performance to bookmark the 30-year-old’s career.

Another victim

Getty - Contributor
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Another victim

Dembele’s career has been unusual from the moment he started learning his craft.

As a youngster in Antwerp Dembele would play without goalposts, meaning the only way to score was stopping the ball on a line at either end of the pitch.

This is where he developed that trademark turn that wouldn’t look out of place in the figure skating world.

With a drop of the shoulder and a chop back on the ball with the outside of his foot Dembele regularly acts out Swan Lake with boots on.

Look very closely and you can see Arsenal ankles breaking

AFP or licensors
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Look very closely and you can see Arsenal ankles breaking

Then there’s the early years at Germinal Beerschot, Willem II and AZ Alkmaar.

Dembele played as a forward or winger, despite his seeming inability to put the ball in the back of the net.

He scored 37 goals in 160 games for Beerschot, Willem and AZ, at a ratio of one every four games.

While not a great scorer of goals he did score one of the best solo goals in Eredivise history, further adding to the mystique.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes still saw fit to splash £5million on the 23-year-old in August 2010, when England got its first glimpse of the unorthodox Belgian.

It was Martin Jol who converted him into a midfielder, although he was often given creative license next to Danny Murphy or Mamadou Diarra.

Then in August 2012 he was signed up to join Andre Villas-Boas’ revolution.

All arms and legs

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All arms and legs

The gangly midfielder wasn’t exactly a blockbuster signing though.

He arrived in the same window as Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey.

Demebele scored four goals in his first two seasons at the club under Villas-Boas and then Tim Sherwood.

While he quickly became a fan favourite among Spurs fans he still didn’t really have an identity.

Then Mauricio Pochettino arrived.

‘Just go out there and bully people’

REUTERS
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‘Just go out there and bully people’

Under Poch the 30-year-old has become one of world football’s finest defensive midfielders.

He’s not got the mobility of Kante, the guile of Sergio Busquets or the spatial awareness Casemiro.

Which takes us back to uniqueness.

Dembele does it in his own way. Laid-back yet aggressive, obscenely composed and graceful yet destructive.

A true one of a kind. Long may it continue.

GOAT

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GOAT

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