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As the new football season approaches, no Premier League manager has been as busy as Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentinian has already completed two major signing this term in the form of Vincent Janssen and Victor Wanyama while a whole host of further potential targets have subsequently been touted with a move to north London. According to widespread reports, Marseille winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou could be the next new arrival at White Hart Lane; let’s take a closer look at the proposed transfer.
After erecting a sturdy platform to build upon in 2015-16, Tottenham will be determined to finally cement their place at the top table of English football for the long haul during the coming season. The White Hart Lane failed to achieve that goal following their last foray into the Champions League under Harry Redknapp six years ago, but there is a real sense of positivity surrounding the club as it prepares for its penultimate campaign at its current home.
With another two or three additions, Pochettino’s men could be ready to challenge both domestically and in the Champions League. N’Koudou is the latest name on Tottenham’s radar, and a transfer index rating of 4.8 suggests that confirmation of a deal is imminent.
Various media outlets have speculated that a transfer fee in the region of £11m has already been agreed while the player is close to accepting contract terms too. Meanwhile, it is believed that Spurs youngster Clinton N’Jie heading in the opposite direction, although the 22-year-old’s switch to Marseille is likely to be on a loan basis.
Whilst OM finished the Ligue 1 campaign in 13th, N’Koudou enjoyed a fantastic maiden season at the Stade Velodrome; the versatile winger stepped in to fill the gap vacated by Dimitri Payet, registering 10 goals in all competitions including five in the league. Whilst he couldn’t match the assist tally of his predecessor, the former Nantes man did provide three for his Marseille teammates.
Club performances were rewarded with promotion to France’s U21s too, for whom he opened his scoring account against Macedonia last November in only his second appearance. N’Koudou career is certainly in the ascendency and that trajectory could take another huge upward turn with this fast-tracked switch to England, especially as Tottenham is seemingly the perfect outlet to continue his evolution.
After just two full seasons in Ligue 1 (he made one start for Nantes in 2013-14), N’Koudou is still a developing talent. The youngster can be erratic in possession at times, but there is no doubt that he has the skill and acceleration to become a fantastic asset at Pochettino’s disposal. The former PSG reject would at least provide greater competition for current Messrs Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen, which could be particularly useful as Spurs bid to fight on several fronts. Furthermore, the success of Tottenham’s youthful squad in 2015-16 will offer huge inspiration; that willingness to place trust in rising stars is arguably the manager’s greatest attribute.
If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. This can only give N’Koudou increased confidence about choosing Spurs as his next destination.
The young Marseille star has been linked with other Premier League outfits in 2016 as both Liverpool and Manchester United weighed up potential bids back in January. While nothing materialised there, the player’s need to play in a stronger league is conspicuous. Moving this summer might feel a little premature, but there’s no point in delaying the inevitable if he can get regular game time. At Spurs, the need for rotation due to the sheer volume of matches should ensure that N’Koudou receives his fair share.
The January departure of Andros Townsend, combined with potential summer departures for Nacer Chadli and Son-Heung Min, means that Pochettino will need attacking reinforcements, particularly in the wide areas. The fact N’Koudou is used to playing the intense attacking philosophy also seen at White Hart Lane should enable the Frenchman to settle quickly. Even if his first campaign in England is restricted to a rotational role, his impact could be telling as Spurs aim to reach the next stage of their long-term blueprint.
Having achieved so much last term, Tottenham will be desperate to maintain that success. Entering their new 61,000-seater home in 2018 as a genuine title contender with regular Champions League football would fire a real signal of intent. The next two years are vital.
At this point, the only question of any pertinence is whether N’Koudou would improve the overall quality of Tottenham’s squad. On evidence of what the youngster has shown in his homeland, the answer has to be a resounding yes. At £11m, Spurs could be getting a bargain while Marseille would be generating roughly £10m profit on a player they only signed 12 months.
Quite simply, it’s a transfer that appears to make great sense for everyone, especially if N’Jie is loaned to the French club too. Expect an announcement within days.