For the last month, the transfer rumour that has been circling White Hart Lane has been Morgan Schneiderlin following his former manager to the North London club. But with a range of midfielders at the club there may already be a suitable player amongst their ranks in the form of Etienne Capoue.
In a difficult debut season at Tottenham, Capoue only made 12 appearances in the league due to injuries and a changeable team selection. With a good pre-season under his belt though, Capoue has started both matches for Tottenham and been a standout of how Pochettino’s ideas are swiftly being implemented by the team – potentially making the Argentine manager reconsider whether signing his former player would be worth a £27m dent in his transfer budget.
Both of the French midfielders play in a similar role as the deepest lying midfielder and in the system plays often drops to the defence to receive the ball as well as acting as a defensive wall ahead of the backline.
Being calm in possession and retaining the ball is important for the role, so far Capoue has shown that he is very comfortable with it. On Sunday against QPR the French midfielder was involved in 7 of the top 10 passing combinations; while against West Ham, despite being down to 10 men for over an hour, he was involved in 4 of the top 10 combinations.
Over the two matches, Capoue has a passing accuracy of 88.1% and making 194 passes in the process. In his only full season working under Pochettino, Schneiderlin made an average of 58.5 passes per match, 1930 passes in total over the course of the season, at a passing accuracy of 89.3%.
As Pochettino likes his team to press high up the pitch, he needs to have confidence in his chosen holding midfielder to be able to cope with mistakes that allow opposition attackers in break forward in space.
In his appearances last season for Tottenham, Capoue was making – on average – 2.1 tackles, 2.5 interceptions, and 2.3 clearances per match; a total of 25 tackles, 30 interceptions, and 27 clearances overall. Compared to Schneilderlin there isn’t much difference with only the number of tackles made on average higher (3.4), while he made 2.1 interceptions and1.5 clearances per match.
With a week of the summer transfer window still open there is the chance that Schneilderlin could still move to Tottenham, but unless a number of players depart the club before to free up squad and financial space for the Southampton midfielder it seems less likely. Either way, Tottenham fans have no need to worry with have a more than suitable candidate already available to them in Capoue.