Scouting Reported Tottenham Hotspur Transfer Target Geoffrey Kondogbia

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2015

Going by reports, Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia is very much in demand from a number of European clubs.
Going by reports, Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia is very much in demand from a number of European clubs.Kaz Photography/Getty Images

Burnley full-back Kieran Trippier has become Tottenham Hotspur's latest new recruit ahead of the 2015-16 season. The full-back joins midfielder Dele Alli and defender Kevin Wimmer as head coach Mauricio Pochettino continues to make preparations for the year ahead.

Another player Tottenham have also reportedly marked out as a transfer target is Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.

Already said to be interesting Barcelona and Arsenal, the Mirror's Adrian Kajumba and Spanish daily Sport (h/t the Daily Star's James Phillips) believe Spurs are now looking at the 22-year-old who is said to be priced in the region of £20 million.

The north London rivals may have to act fast, however. The Daily Express' Anthony Chapman relays a Tuttomercatoweb report suggesting Kondogbia has agreed personal terms with AC Milan.

Even if Milan are not about to sign him, Spurs would have a challenge tempting Monaco to part with one of their best young footballers.

Kondogbia featured in eight of their Champions League matches last season, notably scoring against the Gunners in the last 16. Manager Leonardo Jardim may understandably prefer to keep someone who helped the Principality club finish third in Ligue 1, earning them another crack at Europe's premier competition.

The young Frenchman's intentions for his own career are not currently clear either. Though, should they want him, Liverpool may have an in:

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Even if nothing comes of it, if Tottenham's interest in Kondogbia is legitimate it at least gives us an idea of what Pochettino has in mind for the future direction of his midfield. In particular, its crowded core (currently nine central midfielders at his disposal, including Alli).

It is difficult to predict how foreign acquisitions will adjust in the Premier League. English football is its own beast in its blend of speed and physicality.

Kondogbia in action against former Spur Luka Modric during his time at Sevilla.
Kondogbia in action against former Spur Luka Modric during his time at Sevilla.Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

On Kondogbia's side would be the successful demonstration already of his aptitude for adapting to different environments. A comfortable performer in Ligue 1 (not to mention the Champions League), he also turned heads in La Liga in a spell with Sevilla in 2012-13.

At 6'2", he would not be out of place stature-wise in the hubbub of a Premier League midfield. But physical presence alone does not make a midfielder tough. Current Spur Etienne Capoue is the same height and possesses similar strength but has struggled to assert himself.

Kondogbia does not appear so hesitant. He provides good protection immediately in front of his defenders, looking to hunt down any attackers threatening to get beyond them. A little further up the pitch, he has a good eye for stepping in and dispossessing any opponents looking to break from midfield.

You can see why Pochettino could see a place for the France international patrolling his midfield. Of his current players, only Benjamin Stambouli offers a real penchant for tackling. Even then, his team best 2.9 tackles per game falls short of Kondogbia's 3.4, per WhoScored.com.

Spurs have a good defensive midfielder in Benjamin Stambouli, but a move for Kondogbia would suggest Mauricio Pochettino believes the Monaco man offers more.
Spurs have a good defensive midfielder in Benjamin Stambouli, but a move for Kondogbia would suggest Mauricio Pochettino believes the Monaco man offers more.Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

There are other factors here. Stambouli played less games and, before even comparing the competition in different leagues, each match alone offers a different kind of midfield battles.

But Kondogbia's basic attributes and numbers (he compares favourably with Spurs' main central midfielders in interceptions and pass success) are more than solid. Most impressively, there is more to his game than just destructive tendencies and preventative positioning in his own half.

As well as being strong, Kondogbia is skilful and has fine ball control. He is able to manoeuvre himself out of danger, and while capable of taking players on, he knows the merit of a simple pass in keeping his team ticking. Such awareness and sensibility is certainly something Spurs' own young midfielders Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason are still learning in their respective games.

Kondogbia is still working on his confidence as a genuine top-level contributor to his team's attacks in the final third. But goals like his one against Arsenal suggest he is getting there too.

Kondogbia holds off Arsenal's Olivier Giroud. If the reported interest in the Monaco midfielder is true, it would seem he caught the eye in this season's Champions League run.
Kondogbia holds off Arsenal's Olivier Giroud. If the reported interest in the Monaco midfielder is true, it would seem he caught the eye in this season's Champions League run.Michael Steele/Getty Images

Where his greatest appeal to Tottenham may lie is in his ability to combine these elements into functioning as part of the kind of front-foot pressing game Pochettino has been working to make a more substantial part of his team's game.

Though more comfortable in his own half, Kondogbia does not lose his head in the transition to opposition territory. Often described as a defensive midfielder (such as on his WhoScored profile), his ability may soon see him more widely viewed as an all-rounder.

Spurs are still trying to find that balance in the deployment and work of players like Bentaleb, Mason and Stambouli. There has been some success here (February's north London derby win springs to mind) but a move for Kondogbia would suggest a belief he may be a better option in providing this immediately.

Whatever the exact thinking behind any pursuit of him, the evidence of his fledgling career thus far is that Kondogbia would be a welcome addition to Tottenham's midfield ranks. Whether they even have a chance of signing him, that could become apparent soon enough.