Sebastien Bassong: Why The Spurs Outcast Is An Astute Acquisition For Norwich City

Frozen out at White Hart Lane, it's time for a fresh start for the Cameroon international and if Hughton can teach him how to concentrate; the Canaries will have a great defender in the ranks...
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Frozen out at White Hart Lane, it's time for a fresh start for the Cameroon international and if Hughton can teach him how to concentrate; the Canaries will have a great defender in the ranks...

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With news breaking that Norwich City have secured the signing of Sebastien Bassong from Tottenham Hotspur, it is a very, very good piece of business for the Canaries. Before you spit your coffee all over the screen and launch a tirade of abuse my way; at least hear me out on this one.

Bassong started his career with INF Clairefontaine before moving on to FC Metz as a fresh-faced 16-year-old. He spent three years with the French clubs’ academy side, before making his senior debut in 2005. The defender went on to make 79 league appearances for the now Ligue 2 side, with his performances warranting interest from Newcastle United.

The Magpies snapped up the now 26-year-old for a fee of just £500,000 and the club began to reap the rewards early on as Bassong excelled in the heart of the defence. However, despite being named Newcastle player of the 2008/09 season, he couldn’t prevent the Tyneside club from relegation. The drop to the Championship prompted interest from a number of Premier League sides, including Arsenal and Liverpool.

Yet it was Spurs who won the race to sign the Cameroon international from Newcastle, snaring the youngster for £8m. With Michael Dawson ruled out through injury, Bassong went on to partner Ledley King in the heart of the defence as the North London side secured a vital 2-1 win over Liverpool at the beginning of the 2009/10 season, heading home the winner with an hour on the clock.

Before you spit your coffee all over the screen and launch a tirade of abuse my way; at least hear me out on this one

Bassong went on to make 38 appearances in his debut year at White Hart Lane as Spurs secured Champions League football for the first time in their history.  However, it would be downhill from there for the centre-back, who went on to make just 16 more Premier League appearances during his stint in North London.

A catastrophic start to Spurs’ 3-2 loss to Swiss side Young Boys in the first-leg of the Champions League qualifier saw then manager Harry Redknapp begin to quickly lose faith in Bassong, with the veteran manager preferring King, Michael Dawson and the recently returned Younes Kaboul in the back-line.

On top of that, William Gallas’ arrival from Arsenal pushed him further down the pecking order and he struggled for regular first-team football. Featuring sporadically in the Carling Cup and Europa League saw Bassong failed to figure predominantly. Struggling for form and a loss of confidence saw him shipped out on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the tail end of last season, but for the second time in his career, was relegated to the Championship.

Despite the retirement of King, Bassong was again expected to struggle for first-team action under new head coach Andre Villas-Boas following the arrival of Jan Vertonghen and the return of loanee Steven Caulker from Swansea City. He appeared occasionally in pre-season, with the Portuguese tactician prepared to give fringe players an opportunity to break back in the first-team fold, but it was more than likely that the defender was to be sold this summer.

Harry Redknapp begin to quickly lose faith in Bassong, with the veteran manager preferring King, Michael Dawson and the recently returned Younes Kaboul in the back-line

As such, Norwich snapped up Bassong for a reported £3.75m; a record for the Canaries. He is expected to challenge the likes of Ryan Bennett and fellow new arrival Michael Turner for a starting spot. If Bassong can get a run of games under his belt for the season, he will be a shrewd signing for manager Chris Hughton.

What hindered his time at Spurs was the lack of trust from Redknapp. The former Portsmouth and Southampton boss irregularly altered his back-line, unless injury forced his hand. His confidence during his time at White Hart Lane took an almighty battering, despite a successful first year with the North London side.

In Hughton, however, he is likely to have a manager who isn’t afraid to put his arm round him and give him the boost that he so desperately needs, having known the defender from his Newcastle days. With the confidence from the gaffer, Bassong has proven that he is a top, top centre-back. However, his concentration is one key factor that will need to be worked on.

Too many times he was caught out of position or blissfully unaware of an opposing striker coming in behind before it was too late. If Hughton can eradicate this problem and allow a promising partnership to blossom with Turner, then Bassong will become a real asset to the Canaries.

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