Of all Premier League top clubs, Tottenham have the least number (3) of players out on loan, as the north London club doesn’t waste time in cutting off excesses from their squad and are also always willing to allow promising talents continue growing elsewhere as long as they get to play regularly.
Algeria international midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is one of those who are temporarily out of White Hart Lane, with a lack of first team playing opportunity having led him to Schalke 04 at the beginning of 2016-17 for a season-long loan with an option to make the transfer permanent. But does he have a future at Tottenham and will he ever return?
The 22-year-old made just 2 league starts last term, while he came off the bench on 7 other occasions. With the arrival of Wanyama from Southampton, the youth academy graduate was bound to even have lesser playing chances, but he has now become a regular at the Bundesliga side after a rough start.
Bentaleb has started 16 league games and appeared in 2 others as a sub, weighing in 4 goals and 2 assists in the process. His contributions are ensuring Schalke 04 have a big chance of staving off relegation at the end of the campaign, and they are now currently 7 points off the drop zone after 19 games.
The Algerian has created 17 chances, averages 2 defensive actions per game and completed 78% of his passes. His impressive form has seen him get nominated for the Bundesliga rookie of the year award, and he has Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita to see off if he is to win.
Win or not, his nomination is a testament to how brilliant he has been in the German league, but can that earn him a permanent recall? From breaking into the first team as a 19-year-old, making 35 appearances in all competitions in Pochettino’s first term to earn himself a new and improved contract in the process, to getting shipped out on loan, his Tottenham future just doesn’t look certain with a £17million permanent deal in view.
And no matter how well he performs, it might just not be enough to convince his parent club of his quality. Wanyama and Dembele have gotten the midfield berths for themselves and aren’t willing of letting go anytime soon, while promising youngster Harry Winks is readily available off the bench.
Eric Dier is also able to play in midfield, so there is more than enough backup available at White Hart Lane, and Bentaleb could just be some few months away from becoming a permanent Schalke 04 player.
Besides, his mind is set on a leaving Tottenham after he made some recent comments that might have seen him burn the bridges with the London club and its fans. Bentaleb made it clear that he wouldn’t regret his loan move even if Spurs ended up winning the Premier League as the German side believes more in him, while their fans still show the team support even if they lose.
Both club and player have seemingly reached a conclusion in advance, and it is to part ways. Tottenham have an option to buy him back, but that doesn’t look like a deal that will ever materialize, while Bentaleb himself has his mind made up to make a name for himself elsewhere. We might just have seen his last days in a Tottenham shirt last term.