Is Brighton's Yves Bissouma the complete Premier League midfielder?

With stats matching N’Golo Kante and an impeccable injury record, Brighton’s Yves Bissouma may be the complete Premier League midfielder – it’s no wonder Liverpool and Arsenal are tracking the Malian star

  • Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is attracting attention across the Premier League
  • The 24-year-old is entering his third year with the club after a July 2018 move
  • Liverpool and Arsenal have been heavily linked, along with Tottenham 
  • Jurgen Klopp is reportedly considering Bissouma to replace Gini Wijnaldum

With bone-crunching challenges, a large passing repertoire and seemingly endless levels of fitness, it comes as no surprise that the Premier League’s big guns are eyeing up Brighton’s Yves Bissouma. 

The midfielder has gone from strength to strength since his arrival in the Premier League in July 2018, and now sees his name linked with the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal as a result.

But why is the 24-year-old so effective, and can he really cut it against the best? Ahead of Brighton taking on Manchester City and Bissouma doing battle with Fernandinho, Rodri and Co, Sportsmail took a closer look at the Malian maestro.

Aged just 24, Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is one of the hottest prospects in the Premier League

It’s often seen as archaic or a dated approach to football if a player is regarded as ‘no-nonsense.’ 

Connotations of Vinnie Jones and Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock are drawn; old-school tacklers who thudded into challenges with blood-curdling outcomes.

To regard Bissouma in such a manner would be wide of the mark, but the 24-year-old is very much no-nonsense in the way he extracts possession from his opponents and gets his side on the front foot.

It is exactly why Brighton brought him to English football, and he’s now learned the dark arts with remarkable fluency.

Bissouma has artistry and flair but shows a no-nonsense approach to winning his tackles

To observe the Brighton midfield on a match-day would be to see tight, compact lines, offering the opponent limited room for manoeuvre.

Under Graham Potter the Seagulls try to quickly squeeze chances in their favour, by turning over the ball and feeding the attacking line. Bissouma is crucial with this.

Bissouma currently sits third out of all players in the Premier League for tackles made, reflecting his innate ability to be in the right place at the right time.

The Malian has made 49 tackles throughout the campaign up until this point. That is one shy of Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and four behind Southampton’s Oriol Romeu.

Bissouma has become the metronome of Brighton’s side as a result. He dictates how play will go, sourcing the ball from a tackle and quickly looking to play in his team-mates, who respond accordingly.

It’s a slick operation, and it’s easy to see why the big teams are enamored by such an efficient midfield general who is still only learning his trade.

Recovery expert

Recoveries in midfield are vital for any team across the division, not just those scrapping it out towards the lower echelons.

Recoveries mean possession and possession means control. It’s what every team strives for, and Brighton have a system in place which sees Bissouma regularly winning back the ball.

Manager Potter asks a lot of the 24-year-old, wanting him to put in the tackles all over the pitch but also remain on the ball where possible, due to his all-round play.

The Malian is becoming highly adept at making vital recoveries all over the pitch

This naturally leads to a much higher rate of losing possession, except Bissouma has now become well versed in rapidly making amends and getting his side back holding the advantage.

This season so far he stands as the fourth-ranked midfielder in the Premier League for most recoveries made. 

Again he is hot on the tail of World Cup winner Kante, who has made 128 recoveries compared to Bissouma’s 127.

Only Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse (130) and Man City powerhouse Rodri (135) have made more.

Thursday night will see Bissouma go up against Rodri under the floodlights, and will be a stellar acid test to see just how far the Malian has come. 

Duel king

It’s easy to see why the all-action Bissouma comes across as a complete package.

His high tackle rate and recoveries are coupled favourably with a strong injury record, with the Malian spending hardly any time in the treatment room.

Bissouma is energetic but also highly robust, and this can also be seen within his duel statistics.

Every team wants to have at least one battler in midfield. Reigning champions Liverpool have theirs in Georginio Wijnaldum (who Bissouma has also been linked with replacing), Manchester United have Fred this season while the likes of Tottenham boast Tanguy Ndombele.

Bissouma is a dueler and West Ham’s Tomas Soucek (left) is one of only three men ahead of him

Of his 195 duels entered on the pitch this season, Bissouma has won 112. This places him fourth in the Premier League, with the frequency of him entering midfield duels meaning he could well finish up on top at the end of the season.

Only Fulham’s Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, West Ham’s Tomas Soucek and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish are ahead of Bissouma on duels so far.

The figures indicate that wherever the action is happening during a Brighton match, Bissouma is very often at the heart of it.

Yet, as aforementioned, the 24-year-old isn’t merely a hatchet man. When said duels are won, Bissouma is able to quickly get back upon the ball and make things happen.

Any highlight reel of the player will show an artful passing range, and this too is supported numerically. 

Of every midfielder currently in the top flight, Bissouma is ranked 21st for successful passes made (667). Likewise, he sits 22nd for entire passes made (773), showing a high positive correlation between the Malian getting the ball, eyeing the pass, and executing it as intended.

Given his age and the fact he only has two seasons of Premier League football under his belt, this will undoubtedly get markedly better.

The Malian is composed on the ball and boasts remarkable passing figures so far this term

Such prospective development is exciting for any football fan to witness, regardless of their allegiance.

As is nature’s way when it comes to football transfers, the likelihood of Bissouma remaining at the AMEX Stadium for much longer is increasingly low. 

The former Lille man has a huge ceiling for improvement, and there are few opponents better to place yourself in the shop window against than Pep Guardiola’s City.

Keep a close eye on Bissouma this season, it may well be the last he plays before achieving superstar status. 

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