There is not a player with more to prove in the Premier League this season than Moussa Sissoko. Everywhere he looks now that he is a Tottenham Hotspur player, including the mirror, Sissoko will see people he needs to prove something to.
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Sissoko has finally got what he wanted. He is playing for a Champions League side, surrounded by good players at a glamorous club fighting for silverware, rather than treading water in the Premier League like Newcastle.
But he still has to prove he deserves to be there because the brutal truth is, had Sissoko played as well for Newcastle as he did in his last two appearances for France, he would have got a big move a long time ago. After all, Newcastle are never been adverse to selling their best players for a huge profit, as Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy, Demba Ba and Andy Carroll will testify.
Sissoko did not get a move because, until those games for France, nobody thought he deserved one. That is three years of poor performances – particularly away from home – overshadowed by two eye catching ones at a major tournament.
The 27-year-old has the ability to be a wonderful signing for Spurs. Even at the inflated price of £30m, he has the talent to make it look like a shrewd piece of business.
Tottenham have potentially signed the sort of dynamic, box-to-box midfielder they lacked. He is strong, skilful and fast. A supreme athlete who can be devastating on the counter-attack. He could be the V8 engine of Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
But as I wrote shortly after Sissoko’s Euro performances had turned him into a player the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus discussed signing with Newcastle.
“The problem – perhaps even the tragedy – is that Sissoko is also a shirker, a mercurial talent who spent most of his time on Tyneside hiding behind the failings of others, content to go through the motions, only switching off his cruise control setting against the glamorous English clubs. Why?
“It hints at a bad mentality, poor motivation and a player whose self-interest and questionable desire could be harmful to the collective rather than beneficial.
“At times, it has seemed as though everything Sissoko has done at Newcastle since he went on strike at Toulouse, to force a £1.7m move in January 2013, has been a calculated step towards the exit door.
“To sum things up, he has given more interviews in France talking about his desire to play for a Champions League club, than performances in a black and white shirt that proved he was good enough.”
Sissoko does not have any excuses anymore. He is not playing in a poor team under a poor manager, as he did so often at Newcastle. He has not joined a stepping stone club. He is where he believes he deserves to be, but now the pressure is on to prove it.