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Mousa Dembele Says He Left Tottenham for China to Have 'Different Experience'

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2019

HONG KONG - JULY 26:  Mousa Dembélé of Tottenham Hotspur speaks to the media during a Barclays Asia Trophy press conference at Grand Hyatt on July 26, 2013 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images for FA Premier League)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Mousa Dembele has said wanting a "different experience" motivated him to leave Tottenham Hotpsur for the Chinese Super League.

Dembele left the north Londoners for Guangzhou R&F during the January transfer window. The Lilywhites recouped around £11 million for the Belgium international, who moved to White Hart Lane from Fulham in 2012.

He explained his decision to the club's official channel, per Liam Grace of Sky Sports:

"I like to see myself as open-minded. That is one of the reasons I wanted to come to China. I wanted to see something different. I wanted to have a different experience in life. I heard already there is good food in Guangzhou. I will try this a lot. I think my family will enjoy it as well here."

Fellaini is another Belgian midfielder who left England for China recently.
Fellaini is another Belgian midfielder who left England for China recently.OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Dembele became one of the latest European star to try life in China. He has joined fellow Belgians Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Marouane Fellaini in China, with the latter leaving Manchester United for Shandong Luneng Taishan in early February.

Brazilian stars have also favoured the move to Asia, with Hulk, Oscar and Ramires among those plying their trades in a league noted for its willingness to offer lucrative contracts.

There had been different interpretations of why Dembele chose to move on, however. Kristof Terreur of Het Laatste Nieuws cited fitness and age as possible motivating factors:

Kristof Terreur 📰🎥 @HLNinEngeland

About the Mousa Dembélé fee: he turns 32, has 6 months left on his contract, has over 50 (minor) injuries logged over the last 8 seasons & he already admitted that his body has difficulties to cope with the physical demands of the PL. #thfc https://t.co/CQZHTTGK0J

Yet Dembele sounds both refreshed and content since his transfer. He favourably compared life with his new club to his times with his old one: "The group atmosphere is very comparable with Tottenham. I like this because in Tottenham it was a good group, everyone was very good together."

Camaraderie aside, Tottenham's strength in depth in midfield likely made the idea of the move easier for both club and player.

Spurs have Eric Dier and Harry Winks at the base of midfield, while Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama offer depth. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli pull the creative strings further forward.

Promising youngsters in midfield have meant Spurs haven't missed Dembele.
Promising youngsters in midfield have meant Spurs haven't missed Dembele.Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Eighteen-year-old Oliver Skipp is another precocious midfielder getting closer to the first team. He's been handed a pair of starts in the Premier League this season, appearing in Sunday's 3-1 win over Leicester City at Wembley Stadium.

Having this many options available is probably why Spurs felt the time was right to offload Dembele, a player manager Mauricio Pochettino dubbed a "genius" during his time at the club.

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