Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton on Sunday highlighted one of their major flaws this season – failing to hold on to winning positions.
It was revealed that Spurs have thrown away the most points (20) from winning positions in the Premier League this season.
Seven of those have come in the last three Premier League outings as Spurs’ hopes of a top-two finish rely on them beating struggling Newcastle in the final game of the season.
The loss to Saints again highlighted Spurs’ lack of strength in depth and their need to invest in the summer.
Without Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele through suspension, Mauricio Pochettino’s side lacked the panache that saw them earn their title contender tag earlier in the season. Ryan Mason was called in to cover for Dembele, but the England international failed to have the desired impact with his WhoScored.com rating (5.98) the worst of all outfielders on show at White Hart Lane.
Many feel midfield is one of the first ports of call required for Spurs to strengthen this summer – along with another striker to ease the burden on Harry Kane – with Marseille star Lassana Diarra once again linked with a switch to White Hart Lane.
The Frenchman has been courted by Spurs in previous transfer windows but they could finally land the midfielder this summer.
In what has been a wholly disappointing season for Marseille – the Ligue 1 side currently sit 13th in France’s top tier – chances are a number of key players will depart the Velodrome for pastures new at the end of the season.
Michy Batshuayi and Steve Mandanda are set for moves away from L’OM with Diarra tipped to follow the duo out of the exit door. The 31-year-old may have struggled with injury this term, but has been crucial when available.
Diarra has a better WhoScored.com rating (7.32) than any other Marseille player this season, with the French side winning a considerably greater proportion of games with him starting (33.3%) than without (15.4%).
Crucially, though, is that he provides the much-needed drive from midfield that Spurs can utilise to ease the burden on Dembele. The Belgian has re-established himself as a vital member for the north London side this term, dictating play in the middle of the park.
Indeed, Dembele boasts the best dribble success rate (92.2%) in Europe’s top five leagues this season of the 388 players to attempt 50 or more dribbles. Coincidentally, Diarra features second on that list (84.1%).
Like Dembele, though, Diarra’s game is not focused primarily on bringing the ball forward. Having developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘tackling’, the Marseille man is also capable of carrying out the necessary defensive duties to help ease pressure on the defence, with Diarra making three tackles per league game.
With Spurs’ return to the Champions League confirmed, upgrades are required in certain areas of the pitch and midfield is one of the priorities.
Given his experience and leadership qualities, Diarra could well be seen as the ideal signing for a Spurs side that boasts the youngest squad in the league.