Benjamin Stambouli became our sixth signing of the summer, but just what will he bring to the team?
Another new signing sees us bring in another defensive player. After going large on attacking talent last summer, this term we are addressing the rearguard and the arrival of Benjamin Stambouli will add to that.
The Frenchman is also another youthful addition. He will bring drive and energy, but also adds versatility.
Benjamin Stambouli the defensive midfielder
Whether lining up in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 Benjamin Stambouli was an absolute rock at the heart of the Montpellier midfield. His job first and foremost, like any holding player, is to win the ball back, but then he has excellent distribution.
Whether this is short or over distance, Stambouli is a very accomplished deliverer of the ball. As we looked at in the analysis of Mauricio Pochettino’s use of his defensive midfielder, this is what the new coach requires from his holding player. They need to be able to regain possession, then either move it forward or out to the full backs supplying width.
This is what Benjamin Stambouli did with aplomb at Montpellier. Take their match with Marseille last season. He not only won the ball back, but then he quickly got it out to the wider players in attacking positions.
Against an even stronger Monaco team he did the same, looking to switch the side of play or to get it forward in to their half of the field.
It is this type of distribution that we’ve seen already from Pochettino’s holding player this season. Etienne Capoue has the most passes (300) of any Premier League midfielder.
Open field tackler
Of course distribution is only half the role. The holding player in Pochettino’s system needs to be able to regain the ball, screen his central defenders and drop in-between them when necessary to create a back three.
Benjamin Stambouli was very good at this in his time at Montpellier. He is an accomplished defender due to his time spent as a centre back during his development.
What’s more, he is a very good open field tackler. Some players excel at tackling in numbers or through constricting space and pouncing. Stambouli is able to take the ball off attackers as they dribble towards him at speed or where they have plenty of space to try and jink round him.
This ability to rob the attacker in the open field is a vary rare trait and something that helps him command the space in front of his back four or deny counter attacks.
Confidence on the ball
Stambouli not only moves the ball around when he has it, but he also has confidence to dribble and move out of tight situations.
One thing Mauricio Pochettino encourages his players to do is have confidence on the ball. It is that freedom of expression that he has given to Lamela, Chadli and Eriksen as they interchange and switch positions. He also asks his other players to be confident on the ball as well, as we seek to move it quickly up the field.
Benjamin Stambouli has an excellent command of the football. He can wriggle and turn out of dangerous situations in order to relieve pressure.
His take-ons from the Marseille game above also highlight the risk to his game. Stambouli can take people on, but can also be dispossessed.
A lot of his twists and turns away from opponents aren’t recorded as beating a man by OPTA. However, WhoScored did record him as being stripped of the ball 36 times in 36 Ligue 1 appearances last term. His technique with the ball does have a high reward, but also comes with a slight risk of turning it over.
Don’t get me wrong; Stambouli is not an all action type of player. But his confidence on the ball to wriggle out of opposition presses and traps is something that will benefit Mauricio Pochettino.
Another thing that will benefit Mauricio Pochettino’s system is his athletic ability. Benjamin Stambouli seems to have boundless energy and stamina.
This will benefit the new coach’s pressing style, but also allows him to recover against opposition counter attacks or quick ball movement. He is not a flyer like Aaron Lennon or Kyle Walker, but has very good speed and more importantly great reserves of energy to operate for 90 minutes.
Benjamin Stambouli centre back
What’s more, from his development at Montpellier, Benjamin Stambouli can also fill in at centre back.
He is decent in the air and quick enough over the ground that he can play in the back four if needed.
This not only makes him a hybrid player, but also means he can drop between our two wide splitting centre backs when playing in the defensive midfield role. This is what Mauricio Pochettino requires from his holding player and something Benjamin Stambouli is entirely comfortable with.
Even when playing in central defence, he still uses his excellent range of distribution, as we can see here from Montpellier’s match with Valenciennes.
He is able to move the ball, often on the diagonal to switch play, over great distance and with accuracy. Just what Mauricio Pochettino requires.
What Benjamin Stambouli brings to Spurs
The move of Mauricio Pochettino to bring a player like Benjamin Stambouli in only serves to reinforce what he needs from his defensive midfielder.
– Regain possession of the ball.
– Drop between the wide splitting centre backs to create a back three, then bring the ball out from this position.
– Excellent range of passing, often over distance.
– Great engine and stamina.
– Confidence and expression on the ball to beat traps and pressing.
Our Argentinean coach wants two players in each position in his system and now he has Benjamin Stambouli and Etienne Capoue.
The two will compete for the role, but they could also play alongside each other if the coach feels he needs an increased defensive presence in here.
At 24 years old, Benjamin Stambouli is an exciting prospect and may just surprise a few with his ability once he is up to speed with the Premier League.