Why it went wrong for Nabil Bentaleb at Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham's Nabil Bentaleb

The Algerian international was a regular under Mauricio Pochettino in his first season in charge at White Hart Lane. However, with the likes of Dele Alli and Eric Dier emerging onto the scene, as well as the signing of Victor Wanyama, Bentaleb is now surplus to requirements at Spurs.

Nabil Bentaleb's Tottenham Hotspur career looks to be coming to an abrupt end. 

The 21-year-old featured just 11 times in all competitions in an injury hit 2015/16 season, after becoming a mainstay in the team just a year before.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino used him regularly in his first full season at the helm, as the defensive midfielder started 25 Premier League games.

If it wasn't for an ankle injury in the autumn, along with a call up to the national team in January 2015, he would have perhaps featured more, as he started all 15 games upon his return from the African Nations Cup.

His impressive form was duly rewarded the following summer, when Daniel Levy handed him a bumper five year contract, after Pochettino manifested Bentaleb's importance to his plans.

Picture Supplied by Action ImagesBentaleb was a regular in 2015/16 as he featured 35 times in all comps, starting all but two of those games.

However, on the opening day of the 2015/16 season, the cracks began to surface in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United.

Spurs started brightly, but were behind after 22 minutes when a complacent pass from Bentaleb fell kindly to Wayne Rooney. With Kyle Walker sprinting back, the ball ricocheted off him and into the net.

It was clearly Bentaleb's error, and he was replaced early in the second-half by Ryan Mason. After the game Pochettino bemoaned the mistake.

He said: "There were two or three big, big mistakes today. After we conceded the goal it was difficult to play to the same level.  

"It is true that when you compete against a team like Manchester United you need to avoid mistakes."

Tottenham manager Mauricio PochettinoMauricio Pochettino quickly lost trust in Bentaleb after some costly errors.

Bentaleb's punishment was a place on the substitutes bench for the next game against Stoke.

With Spurs leading 2-0, he was brought on for Mason in the 69th minute, with the responsibility of protecting the back four and grinding out the victory.

However, a late collapse meant that the game finished 2-2 and Bentaleb had hardly done himself any favours with a telling response from Pochettino afterwards.

"In football it's never closed until the final whistle. It's disappointing. The team played very well for 70 minutes." 

The Algerian had to settle for a place on the bench again the following week, at Leicester City's King Power Stadium.

Yet he was given just two minutes as the third substitute, as Tom Carroll and Dele Alli were preferred earlier on, the latter scoring his first goal for the Lilywhites with a header at the back post.

England's Dele Alli is substituted for Ross BarkleyDele Alli celebrates his first Spurs goal with academy graduates Harry Kane and Tom Carroll. At this point, Bentaleb was yet to come on.

A week later, he was recalled to the starting XI against Everton at White Hart Lane, playing 90 minutes in a bore draw.

He then suffered an ankle injury whilst on international duty in September, consequentially inactive until early December.

By the time he made his return against Monaco in the Europe League, he found himself well down the pecking order.

By this stage Dele Alli had made his debut for England, in which he scored from range against Hugo Lloris, Mousa Dembele had found form, and Eric Dier had established himself as Pochettino's midfield general.

In January he was restricted to FA Cup appearances against Leicester and Colchester as he played just two minutes of Premier League action, against Crystal Palace.

Colchester United's George Moncur in action with Tottenham's Nabil BentalebBentaleb was restricted to FA Cup appearances, as he played just two minutes of Premier League football after August.

Replacing Dier in the 88th minute with Spurs comfortably ahead, post-match interest at Selhurst Park focused on Alli after his stunning strike in the 3-1 win.

Bentaleb featured again against Palace in the 1-0 FA Cup defeat on February 21st, playing the full ninety.

And four days later he appeared for Spurs for what could be the last time, as he replaced Dele Alli late on in the 3-0 win over Fiorentina in the Europa League.

Recovering from a knee operation performed in March, he failed to earn a place in any of Pochettino's matchday squads as Spurs fell short in their unlikely pursuit of a Premier League title.

Fiorentina's Dele Alli comes off for Nabil BentalebBentaleb was once the hottest youngster at White Hart Lane. That title was quickly pinched by Dele Alli, who is 18 months younger.

The final nail in the coffin would have come at the beginning of pre-season when Bentaleb was not selected as part of the squad for the tour of Australia, despite several first-team players being missing as they were given extended breaks after EURO 2016.

Along with Federico Fazio and Alex Pritchard, the Algerian stayed in London and Pochettino explained his reasoning.

"The situation with three players - Bentaleb, Fazio and Pritchard - is very clear. They are not in my plans and they know," he said.

"I have communicated with them and it was made very clear. It's not a problem. They know the situation and we'll see what happens."

Fazio and Pritchard have since departed. 

Everton's Idrissa Gueye in action with Tottenham's Victor WanyamaDefensive midfielder Victor Wanyama was signed in the summer, inferring that Bentaleb's position was under threat.

And according to the Independent, Bentaleb will be allowed to leave once Daniel Levy's £10 million valuation is met. 

With Spurs struggling to find a club willing to fork out the fee, The Daily Mail suggest a loan move could be imminent. However offers from Benfica and Lazio have been rebuffed as Tottenham seek a permanent switch. 

That permanent switch could come via the unlikely source of Italian giants Juventus, with the Express suggesting that Bentaleb will be brought in to fill the void left by Paul Pogba.

Though that link is a little far-fetched considering Bentaleb played just 54 minutes of European football last season.

After making his debut as a teenager under the tutelage of Tim Sherwood, it now seems his Tottenham career is over.

If the maturing 21-year-old is to reach the heights that were once touted of him, he must choose his next destination wisely as he begins the next chapter of his fledgling career. 

 

 

 

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