A signing that came out of left field, Spurs splashed out a rumoured £4.7 million on Montpellier’s defensive midfielder Benjamin Stambouli with Swansea City, Marseille and Fiorentina all showing previous interest in the French Under-21 international. New Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino had been tracking his former charge - Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin - to play the role of a protector in front of the back four, but with the Saints not letting the French international leave after a number of departures, the Plan B that hadn't been revealed was Stambouli.
The midfielder started his career as a youngster at Marseille and then moved to Sedan and Montpelier following his father who was on the coaching staff. Football was in his family, as his father was also a former Marseille player and his grand-father also managed Olympique and AS Monaco. Was part of the team that won the French equivalent of the national youth cup, the Coupe Gambardella in 2009 beating FC Nantes. Benjamin has been at Montpelier as a youth and senior player for 10 years, making his breakthrough into the first-team the season they won their first ever French league title in 2012.
Montpellier at the age of 23, the hard-working
midfielder fits in with Pochettino's philosophy for
players to play in his dynamic, pressing style.
Additionally, he has a good range and accuracy of
passing, along with the physical attributes to serve him
well in the Premier League. Having also featured
in a number of positions - centre-half, full back and
midfield - Benjamin can appreciate other areas of the
game and is a player who reads the game well, without
needing to crunch into tackles. When he does make
tackles, he usually wins them and then uses the ball
creatively. Stambouli is not always one to go
charging forward and his goal ratio suggests that he is
not the man to add goals from midfield, but he rejected
the chance to move to Marseille, as they wanted him to
play in a central defensive three, whereas he sees his
future as a central midfielder.
Benji featured sporadically during his first season at Spurs, scoring a drilled shot from 16 yards in the home Europa League match against Partizan Belgrade to show what he could contribute, but often he looked off the pace and in one game looked like he was running in treacle, as an opponent went past him. He did come back to play more of a part in games he got an opportunity in, but with Ryan Mason making a place in the defensive two in midfield his own, Stambouli had to make due with the occasional appearance. What he did look good at was holding the ball when in possession and finding a white shirt when he released it.
However, interest in the summer of 2015 from newly promoted Watford looked like taking him to Vicarage Road until a last minute swoop by Paris St. Germain gave the player a chance to return to his own country and play Champions League. Tottenham managed to negotiate a fee for him that was more than we bought him for and he left them club without having a chance to show what he could add to the side.