Moussa Sissoko: I'll be better after full preseason with Tottenham
LIVERPOOL -- Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko says this season will be "totally different" for him after taking part in a full preseason at the club.
Sissoko joined Spurs for £30 million, then a joint club-record fee, from Newcastle on transfer deadline day last summer, but he struggled in his first season in North London. He started just eight Premier League games, failed to score and, in November, manager Mauricio Pochettino took the unusual step of publicly criticising his effort in training and matches.
The France international was linked with a move away from the club this summer but he has started the season well, featuring in all four matches and impressing in Saturday's 3-0 win at Everton.
Sissoko says his lack of a preseason for Newcastle while he waited for a transfer after Euro 2016 was the reason for last term's form and he adds it will be different this year, even though he missed Spurs' July tour of the United States with a virus.
"This season is totally different because I had the preseason with the team. Last season I signed at the last minute and didn't have the preseason so it was difficult," Sissoko told reporters at Goodison Park.
"Now I feel good and ready to fight like everyone, and try to give my best for the team. I hope I will do well this season and we will all do well in the league, in the Champions League and in the cups.
"When you start you're always happy. The manager gave me my chance and I tried to give my best and I think I did well like all the team, so I'm happy."
Sissoko was unlucky not to open his account for the club after Ashley Williams blocked his goal-bound effort on Saturday, while Harry Kane, who scored either side of Christian Eriksen's goal, waited too long to play in the midfielder soon after.
"I had some chances but I didn't score -- that's football, so I hope next time it will be in, but the most important thing was to have a good game. I hope my goal will come soon," he said.
Sissoko spent a season playing alongside new Tottenham signing Serge Aurier, an unused substitute at Goodison Park, at Ligue 1 club Toulouse and he says the Ivory Coast international has the right qualities to replace Kyle Walker, who joined Manchester City in July.
"He is a similar player [to Walker]," Sissoko said. "He will be good for us, he will help us to go as high as possible. We have a lot of ambition this season and I hope we will do well all together.
"I don't have to talk a lot about him -- everyone knows him because he played for Paris Saint-Germain and he's played some massive games in the Champions League as well.
"He's a very good player who's strong defensively, and then he can attack as well. With the style we play, I think he will be comfortable in the team."
Meanwhile, Aurier has said that he "felt like a prisoner" at PSG after his conviction for assault last September following an altercation with a police officer outside a Paris nightclub in May 2016.
The 24-year-old was given a two-month "convertible" prison sentence, as well as a €600 fine and a €1,500 damages bill.
Aurier maintains his innocence and the charge has since been downgraded to a fine, enabling him to successfully receive a U.K. visa and work permit.
"There had been a problem, a problem we all know about. From there, I was like a prisoner. I couldn't do anything, I couldn't express myself, I couldn't talk anymore. I wasn't talking to the press anymore," Aurier said in a video interview with Bros. Stories.
"For me, that meant withdrawing into myself. It was a never ending saga. When I was somewhere with the players, I was avoiding people's stares. I stopped feeling at ease, I wasn't taking pleasure anymore. That's what made me decide it was the right time to leave."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.