Why Mousa Dembele is currently the best central midfielder in the world

Cian Carroll | 19 February 2018

Belgium international has been pivotal

Standing at 6ft 1in tall, gangly and powerful, Mousa Dembele dominates the centre of the park like few other midfielders.

Against Juventus in midweek, the Tottenham Hotspur star was the standout player on a pitch full of top-class players.

Dembele orchestrated one of the great English comebacks in European competitions, coming from two-down to bag a draw in Turin.

His manager, Mauricio Pochettino, referred to him as a “genius” – which certainly puts him in some exalted company.

Odd characteristics

The Belgian isn’t exactly your modern midfield general. Unlike a Luka Modric – who will sit in front of the back four and facilitate others – Dembele roves from box-to-box.

In that sense, he is a throwback to the central midfielders of old. The former Fulham ace is all legs, but he also has huge upper body strength.

His ability to turn on a six-pence, hand-off players and move away at pace is frightening for a man of his size. 

But for injuries

Since he arrived at Fulham in 2010, Dembele has suffered 46 different injuries – none of them serious, thankfully.

However, they have played a part in the 30-year-old only receiving the recognition his talent deserves now.

Pochettino, too, must be credited with his emergence – when fit, the Argentine has built the Spurs engine around him.

Ability incomparable

In terms of the current crop of players in his ‘style’, Dembele is arguably the best. He’s comfortable receiving the ball in any situation.

He can defend and get forward. He drives the play with fantastic dribbling skills and can pass off both feet with equal quality.

Juve’s Sami Khedira – of similar attributes – was outclassed by the Belgian in Turin. Blaise Matuidi – injured for the Old Lady – could get his chance to eclipse Dembele in the return leg.

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