Tottenham Hotspur are a club that boast a wealth of world-class talent, and yet for whatever reason, they remain unable to truly make that step up to challenge for the Premier League title.
Harry Kane and Heung-min Son have often thrived in attack, and Cristian Romero has returned that steel in defence they lost in the absence of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
However, one many who they never truly replaced was Mousa Dembele.
The Belgian maestro is remembered with fondness across the whole division, with his play style synonymous with the ideal midfielder for the league.
With poise and finesse combined with a tough-tackling nature, he featured 249 times for the Lilywhites and seldom disappointed.
His 2015/16 campaign was arguably his most impressive, recording a 7.41 rating across just 29 appearances. Across this season he would average one key pass per game alongside a 90% pass accuracy, yet married this with 3.6 tackles and 1.9 interceptions, via Sofascore.
What stands out the most of all these is that he also maintained a 92% dribble success rate that season too.
He was truly unstoppable.
To find his replacement is to reignite any hopes Spurs have of trophy-hunting once more, and they could find a potential option in Fulham’s Joao Palhinha.
Having been linked earlier on in the window, the Portugal international only moved to Craven Cottage last summer for £20m.
The 27-year-old has since gone on to thrive in the midfield under Marco Silva, blending power with passing perfection that resembles the former north London favourite with an added “engine” that Statman Dave lauded.
Earning a 7.12 rating, he is averaging a mammoth 4.7 tackles per game. In fact, he is comfortably the top tackler in the Premier League this season.
His physicality is unmatched, more than earning the statement that Sky Sports reporter Jamie Weir uttered on the midfielder:
“He’s everywhere, crunching into tackles. Big unit, strong as an ox. One of the signings of the season”.
Maintaining an 82% pass accuracy too, the ability on the ball is less impressive than his potential predecessor but has room for improvement.
A strong enforcer to hold down the midfield with added flair, Palhinha’s addition would be the final piece in Antonio Conte’s midfield, allowing him to focus on areas in more need.