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Yves Bissouma: Why Arsenal may want to sign Brighton's combative midfielder

Ross Jackson
Jan 12, 2021, 4:50 PM GMT
Yves Bissouma is on the radar of a number of European behemoths
Yves Bissouma is on the radar of a number of European behemoths / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
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'Tis the season to be silly. That's right folks, the January transfer window is upon us, and over the coming weeks we'll be treated to countless whispers and rumours from the footballing world - most of which turn out to be absolute rubbish.

One recently emerged transfer story which does seem to have a little more substance to it than most is Arsenal's interest in Yves Bissouma.

The Gunners, however, are aware that they may have to wait until the summer to land the 24-year-old, who it appears would be keen to prioritise a move to north London over other potential Premier League suitors, namely Liverpool and Manchester United.

Norwich's Emiliano Buendia is a cheaper, more realistic short-term target, while Celtic's Ryan Christie is also being considered. But Bissouma offers more of a deep-lying dynamism, and fits the mould and character of player that Mikel Arteta is looking to intricate into his squad.

Interest in the Seagulls midfielder isn't just limited to these shores, with clubs in France and Spain also keeping tabs on the Mali international. So just what is all the fuss about?

90min decided to delve into what Bissouma does best.

1. Fantastic technical ability

Bissouma is more than comfortable with the ball at his feet
Bissouma is more than comfortable with the ball at his feet / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

If you're looking for a player who is going to grab you 15 goals-a-season from midfield or produce defence splitting passes to unlock defences, then you've come to the wrong man (that being said, his sole strike this season away at Everton wasn't bad).

However, if you need a midfielder who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and more than adept at distributing to his teammates, then Bissouma is exactly who you're looking for.

While Brighton haven't been at their best this campaign, Graham Potter's side prides itself on being able to keep hold of the ball and sustain attacks, and the Mali international is a huge part of that ethos.

He's proven himself to be comfortable taking the ball from defenders and opening the game up on the half-turn, while his quick feet and ability to seamlessly shift his weight mean he's more than capable of receiving the ball under pressure.

2. Breaks up play and reads the game well

Bissouma lunges into a challenge
Bissouma lunges into a challenge / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Despite their desire to play football and retain possession, Brighton are ultimately a team who have spent the majority of their stay in the Premier League fighting towards the bottom end of the table.

Therefore, Potter's men need to be able to break up play when they're camped in their own half, and Bissouma is one of the main contributors to that task.

The midfielder has got the positional awareness and the nous to step in and disrupt the opposition's play, while he's got the engine and the focus needed to battle for 90 minutes as teams look to build pressure and pick the Brighton lock.

3. He is quick in transition

Bissouma would be perfect for any team that likes to spring quick attacks
Bissouma would be perfect for any team that likes to spring quick attacks / BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

Being able to break up play is all well and good, but if you don't have the ability to carry the ball and do something with the possession you've just won back for your team, then you're going to be pretty limited as a midfielder.

Bissouma's ability to carry the ball and spring attacks has become a feature of Brighton's play as he's started to settle in England, making him the perfect option for any side who looks to soak up pressure before bursting forward.

4. Tough tackler

Bissouma can break up play in the centre of the park
Bissouma can break up play in the centre of the park / Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

No player in the Seagulls squad even comes close to Bissouma in the tackling ranks this season.

The midfield enforcer has completed an average of three tackles per game so far (51 overall) this season - comfortably the highest figure in the Brighton squad. However, his combative nature does see him occasionally overstep the mark, having already received five yellow cards and a red in the Premier League this campaign.

It would be wrong to try and curtail the midfielder's fiery streak as it's a part of his game which makes him such a well-rounded player, but if he could show a little more maturity as he develops it would stop him picking up needless bookings.

5. A good engine

Bissouma has the engine needed as a midfield enforcer
Bissouma has the engine needed as a midfield enforcer / Pool/Getty Images

If you're going to play in the centre of any Premier League midfield it's a bit of a given that you're going to be fit, but Bissouma has an engine to rival most.

Apart from Brighton's defeat to Manchester United in September - which the midfielder missed through suspension - Bissouma has started every league game for Potters' side this season and has been substituted just once.

While this may seem a relatively flimsy point to make (he's probably their best player, why wouldn't he play nearly every minute of the season?), the Mali international continues to produce lung-busting runs throughout the 90 minutes as he attempts to link Brighton's play.

In truth, he could fit into most styles of play, whether you're looking to keep hold of the ball and need quality technicians in the centre of the pitch, or you need someone with an engine who can carry the ball. There's not much this lad can't do.

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