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.
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.
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.
Dembele left 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 added 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 a Champions League medal, but Dembele’s class should never be doubted.
Now the Belgian has announced his retirement from international football, citing injuries and fitness troubles as the reason for calling time on his Belgium career aged just 32.
The Premier League was lucky enough to experience a true maverick in his prime, 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.
North London hasn’t been the same without him.