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Mousa Dembele made an immediate impact on his arrival at Tottenham, scoring a well-worked effort in a 1-1 draw with Norwich City.
Anyone who had only seen him fleetingly in his time at Fulham would have been forgiven for thinking that being a skilled and occasionally deadly operator around the penalty box was his primary function. While it is true Dembele is capable of summoning such moments, going back to last season, he has been earning his living as a central midfielder.
Dembele was brought in to Spurs' midfield after Luka Modric's departure last summer. Describing him as a direct replacement is a little off the mark, though he has filled the void left by the Croatian.
Like Modric, Dembele is not so much about the final assist, but what comes before that. He is a solid passer of the ball, though perhaps not one who has not fully taken the shackles off his more creative instincts (a wonderful through ball he played to Emmanuel Adebayor against Lyon did hint at a more imaginative streak).
Dembele's main calling card as a midfielder is his dynamism. He can get on the ball and drive Spurs forward, mixing it up with close dribbling and bursts of speed. This ability to up the tempo is a fine tool to have and is one of his ways of influencing games.
The other is—to put it in a bluntly English manner—his willingness to get stuck in. Dembele does not shirk a challenge and relishes the confrontations that make up a midfield battle. It is a part of his game that he is still honing to maximum effect, as it does bring with it a tendency to get drawn out of position. But along with the work of Scott Parker and Sandro (before he was injured) it ensures Spurs have some steel in midfield.