Geoffrey Kondogbia – the powerhouse that Arsenal need?

Posted: March 15, 2013 in Arsenal, La Liga
Kondogbia in action.

Kondogbia in action.

There’s a tedious and cliched manner in which you can look at the rumours of Kondogbia to Arsenal: being young and French means he fits the ‘Wenger-esque’ signing phrase very well. Then, there’s my way of looking at things: he’s young, he’s built like a tonne of bricks and would, possibly, be the final piece of the jigsaw for Arsenal’s midfield.

It’s often seen that Arsenal line-up with a midfield of technically gifted, diminutive-sized players, with the exclusion of Abou Diaby. Whilst they’re sometimes irresistibly entertaining to watch for the neutrals, it can sometimes be frustrating for many Arsenal fans due to the lack of a physical presence in the midfield; someone who will intimidate the opponent, break down attacks and just sit back for large spells of the game. A protector of the defence, if you will, but also someone who can effectively link the defence with the midfield.

Having mentioned Diaby, I don’t think there’s much difference between him and Kondogbia. Kondogbia is a powerful midfielder who, in a box-to-box position, has the leeway to take long strides forward, similar to Diaby. Kondogbia is someone who likes to dribble with the ball at his feet, but in an effective manner, when playing in a slightly advanced position. But, when he plays as a defensive-midfielder, he’ll just sit there, break up the play and pass the ball to the nearest team-mate. He isn’t like Alex Song – Hollywood passes that only work out ever so often – but it’s not as though he’s just a lumpy, static midfielder. His movement and ability to read the game are his two best attributes. The way he reads the game, at such a young age, is exquisite.

This shows how positive his passing is. He currently has an 86% passing accuracy rate. (Via the brilliant Squawka Sports)

This shows how positive his passing is. He currently has an 86% passing accuracy rate. (Via the brilliant Squawka Sports)

This is his first year in Sevilla colours, but he’s seemed incredibly comfortable in that midfield. It’s admirable how quickly he’s adapted, how well he’s played and how many eyes he’s caught in just his first season in a completely new country to his native France. Having to balance moving to a completely new country, breaking in to a first-team and having big clubs sniffing around you seems far from an easy task, mentally, but he’s coped very well. He’s eager to learn and very serious about getting game time, so much so that he’s been immovable from that Sevilla midfield in the last 4-5 months.

His stature, mixed with technicality, have now made him one of the hottest prospects in La Liga, as well as for the French national team. Many eyebrows were raised when the France squad for the world cup qualifiers against Spain and Georgia didn’t have Kondogbia’s name on there, despite having two other bright French youngsters: Pogba and Varane. Why wouldn’t he be such a hot prospect? It’s hard to find a player of Kondogbia’s age who’ s such a talented defensive-minded midfielder, apart from his compatriot, Pogba. It’s hard to make an argument for any other defensive-minded midfielder in Europe, at the age of 20, who’s making as much waves as Kondogbia is. Usually, the fixation on youthful players is towards the technically gifted midfielders/forwards or centre-backs, but it’s refreshing to see a player like Kondogbia pick up many plaudits.

Of course, he’s not the perfect player. There are still some bits of his game which need working on: level-headed tackling. He sometimes commits unnecessary fouls and rash tackles, but that’s something that he’ll learn to kick out of his game once he gets more seasons under his belt.

If his reported release clause is to be believed (£6.7M), then it doesn’t surprise me that Arsenal and Manchester City have shown a lot of interest in Kondogbia. I think it’d be a huge miss if we didn’t even bother triggering the release clause, as I think he’s one of the brightest young talents in Europe at the moment. If it comes down to him choosing between Arsenal or City, I’d tip him to choose the Gunners. Why? He’ll talk to Wenger, who’s brilliant with young players, gives them a chance and believes in them. Wenger being French could also turn his head. He’ll look at our midfield and see how depleted we are in his position, meaning he’s guaranteed a lot of game time. If he’s serious about his football, which seems to be the case, then he won’t sway towards Manchester City: a club who, at the moment, are awash with money and apart from Nastasic, don’t really give young players that much of a chance. Again, look at the competition he’d have in the City midfield. He wouldn’t get a chance.

I don’t tend to hype up young players that much, but Kondogbia really is the real deal. £6.7M is a steal, in my opinion, and nothing would beat the feeling of prying this youngster away from the eyes of Manchester City and seeing him develop into a top talent.

 

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Comments
  1. savagegooner says:

    A really good piece Chris, I’ve not watched him as much as you but I agree that he looks like he would be a steal at that price!

  2. Great piece, be interested to see you he develops. For the game tomorrow, check out our preview to get you in the mood! http://backpagebanter.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/a-final-swan-song-for-arsenal-in-the-league/

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