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Mousa Dembele was the world-class midfielder who couldn’t really pass, shoot or tackle

Mousa Dembele may well be the most unorthodox footballer ever to grace the Premier League

What is Mousa Dembele actually good at?

If your continued existence on planet earth depended on the Belgian making a 50/50 pass, you’d start making sure your life insurance was all up to date.

It’s a similar story for Dembele’s shooting, which explains why he’s only scored 12 Premier League goals since moving to England in 2010.

Ripe for a nutmeg

Bradley Ormesher - The Times
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Ripe for a nutmeg

His lasting contribution to the defensive side of the game was leaving Sergio Ramos in a heap with a mistimed yet perfectly considered swipe of the right foot. Think Paul Scholes rather than Paolo Maldini.

However, in his prime and provided he was fully fit, Demebele wouldn’t look out of place in any midfield in world football.

No game would be too technical or frantic for Demebele to adapt to. He’d be equally at home in a vintage El Clasico tie as he would a scrappy Old Firm derby.

You doubt his game would change whether playing in the Champions League final or League Two.

All of which makes Dembele the most unorthodox footballer to grace the Premier League. Yep, Jay-Jay Okocha has finally been dethroned.

Wee man and top shagger in the same photo

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Wee man and top shagger in the same photo

Dembele’s weapon of choice was always the outside of his left foot.

Coupled with thighs cut from marble and and an unerring knack for being able to turn in a circle and still go forward, Dembele became near impossible to tackle.

That’s not hyperbole. Dembele went six months without being tackled in the Premier League before Sunderland’s Didier Ndong finally managed to get hold of him.

One of the few men able to stop Mousa in full flight

Reuters
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One of the few men able to stop Mousa in full flight

Dembele will leave for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan without a single piece of silverware to show for his nine years in England.

But that shouldn’t be a mark against his name. If anything, it adds to Dembele’s mystique. Normal rules and regulations have never applied when discussing the Belgian.

The naysayers can put Dembele’s four man of the match displays during a two-week examination against Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus in their pipe and smoke it.

Dembele went toe-to-toe with Paul Pogba, Mesut Ozil and Miralem Pjanic and came out on top. Sure, it’s not the Champions League, but Dembele’s class should never be doubted.

One of the few times the ball wasn’t glued to the side of Dembele’s left foot

MAX ROSSI
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One of the few times the ball wasn’t glued to the side of Dembele’s left foot

Spurs won’t be hit by Dembele’s absence in the way they would be if Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen or Moussa Sissoko decided to chance their arm away from north London.

But the Premier League will be losing a true maverick, the likes of which we’re unlikely to see again due to the constant desire to label midfielders.

Dembele wasn’t a goalscoring midfielder. He wasn’t a defensive midfielder. He wasn’t a no.10. He was just Mousa.

Our thoughts are with the first Chinese Super League opponent who tries to go shoulder-to-shoulder with Dembele and ends up back in their infancy.

How do you say ‘Goat’ in Belgian?

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How do you say ‘Goat’ in Belgian?

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