After a season in which Mauricio Pochettino improved Tottenham’s Premier League finishing position by one place while putting an emphasis on youth in his starting XI, many of the young bucks the Argentine lent on are coming in for some summer attention.
Whether it is demand for Harry Kane going through the roof in every conceivable team he is eligible for, Ryan Mason’s England call up or Manchester City’s reported interest in Danny Rose, there can be little argument that Spurs’ kids are the talk of the town.
Another of the club’s vaunted crop of youngsters is Nabil Bentaleb, who is attracting interest from a rebuilding Liverpool outfit looking to replace a midfield mainstay.
With Steven Gerrard’s departure leaving Jordan Henderson looking for a new regular central-midfield partner, Brendan Rodgers may see the former England captain’s replacement lying away from Anfield, rather than among his current squad.
Indeed bwin.com make it just a 6/4 possibility that Bentaleb is a Liverpool player by the end of the summer transfer window.
Certainly the numbers suggest that bringing Bentaleb in to fill the MLS-bound veteran’s void would be a shrewd move.
With a reputation for possession retention, a key factor in any Rodgers purchase, the Algerian outperformed all bar two of the current Reds engine room in the Premier League this season.
Bentaleb’s 86.8 percent pass success rate was only surpassed by Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva, the 20-year-old’s closest two rivals for a Liverpool starting berth.
However, it can be argued that the French-born Lilywhite would still warrant selection ahead of that Merseyside pair, as he makes far more forward passes than the duo at 966 compared to 557 and 705 respectively.
Throw in the fact that the Spurs boy bettered the pass completion rate of all Liverpool’s current central midfield candidates in the final third, at 84.6 percent, and it becomes clear that Bentaleb provides a creative streak the Reds lack.
Although the 16-cap Dessert Warrior doesn’t provide much of a goal threat, Henderson showed an aptitude for covering that part of Gerrard’s game as the campaign wore on, while Bentaleb more than makes up for that weakness with his defensive nous.
The Lille native snuffed out more chances during the campaign than any Liverpool midfielder, registering 26 more interceptions than his closest competitor, and had a better success rate in aerial duels than all of the Merseyside club’s current central midfield options too.