According to reports, Tottenham have made a move for Marseille winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou. The 21 year old has just finished his first season at the Stade Velodrome, but it looks like he could be part of Marseille’s fire sale this summer and make a move to north London.
After surprising everyone and finishing third last season, Spurs are looking to bolster their squad to look to stay in the top four next season and to make the most of their Champions League campaign.
As good as Tottenham’s squad is, one thing they do lack is pace. N’Koudou would certainly address this weakness, as one of the 21 year old’s standout qualities is his quickness. Dele Alli is great, but his runs are more about timing, and both Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela are much more about craft than quickness.
Outside of those three, the only two other players to make more 10 or more league starts in those positions were Nacer Chadli and Heung-Min Son. Chadli provides some qualities, but pace has never been his strong suit, and he may be on his way out at Spurs anyway. Son is probably the quickest of the players mentioned, but he had an up and down debut season and while he is quick he does not have game changing pace and he’s not someone that’s going to constantly threaten in behind.
Along with speed, N’Koudou is very direct and dribbles at people constantly. The Frenchman’s 2.8 successful dribbles per 90 minutes was eighth best in Ligue 1 last season among players with at least 1500 minutes played, according to Whoscored.
Spurs tried to fill this hole in their squad last summer with the signing of another young player from Ligue 1 in the form of Clinton N’Jie. N’Jie moved to Spurs two days after his 22nd birthday on the back of a breakthrough season at Lyon. A Lyon academy product, the Cameroonian got his chance in the first team in 2014/2015 and turned that chance into a move to England.
Sadly for Spurs, all the promise in the N’Jie move was derailed by his injuries. After being eased into the first team, with all seven of his appearances in the league being off the bench, he went down with a MCL injury keeping ruling him out for at least three months. It ended up being nearly five months until he made another appearance for Spurs and he is still yet to make a league start for the side from north London. Now he is rumoured to be out of favour after his injury plagued first season in England.
The two players are far from carbon copies though, N’Jie is much more of a striker or wide forward where N’Koudou is more of a traditional winger. That said, looking at their numbers from their breakout seasons they do seem to fit the same general profile.
There are some differences in the two players but there are some similarities in the two moves. Both are relatively low risk moves, N’Jie moved for a rumoured £8.3m while the fee for N’Koudou is thought to be in the range of £10.8m. They are both coming off one big breakout season but are otherwise unproven.
If this move comes off, Mauricio Pochettino will hope N’Koudou can impress in what will inevitably be limited opportunities and avoid major injuries and not wind up like N’Jie.
The low fee means that there is probably more risk in this move for the player than the team. N’Koudou’s chances will likely be limited and it could prove tough for him to get a run in the first team. But he does get to leave the sinking ship that is Marseille, he will likely get a heft pay rise, and if he does get his chance and takes it, he’ll have raised his own stock massively.