Arsene Wenger heaped praises on fellow French man and Monaco’s defensive midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia ahead of the English FA Cup Champions’ match with his club in the just concluded Emirates Cup held at Arsenal, over the last weekend. The 21-year-old impressed in Monaco’s 1-0 wins over the Arsene Wenger boys by dominating the midfield. The team seemed unbreakable throughout the match due to Kondogbia’s hard work, covering his defence line and sometimes making runs and joining the attack. Ahead of the match, Wenger said, ‘‘Kondogbia is a very interesting player because he’s a left footed midfielder and he’s one of the promising stars, just behind Pogba, in the French National team’’.
The French player, who left Sevilla last year for Monaco, was so much linked to the Gunners last summer and as Arsene Wenger is still in search of a defensive midfield Marshal, fans have expressed the possibility of poaching the young player right under Monaco’s nose. The player however, made only 16 starts for the Ligue 1 side last season and has been fingered by fans and pundits as a potentially perfect candidate for the void that Wenger intends to fill in the defensive midfield of the Gunners squad. The Arsenal manager’s admiration for the lad had also been expressed last year when the North London club was linked to the player, but this time he had the opportunity to watch him play first hand.
This summer, Arsenal has been linked with a plethora of defensive midfielders which shows the managers desperation to get a man in the middle. Names like Sami Khedira, Morgan Schneiderlin, William Carvalho and recently, Josuha Guilavogui have been linked to the North London club that is set to replace ageing Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, both over 30 years of age. With recent developments, it is looking like Wenger would go for the long term option that only Sami Khedira in the list above, doesn’t fit into. Schneiderlin, 25; Carvalho, 22; Guilavogui, 23; and now Geoffrey Kondogbia, 21; these options other than their ages would likely come with reasonable weekly wage demands, well below £100,000-a-week. Sami Khedira was however reported to have demanded £150,000 per week and the deal stalled at that stage. He later made a turn around by reportedly reducing his wage demand to £134,000 weekly, in a last ditch bid to revive the deal.
To many, winning the Barclays English Premier League, other domestic titles and an European success in the upcoming 2014/2015 football season is down to acquiring the service of a relatively young player, maybe versatile, strong and energetic, with an eye for the ball, a strong and positive blend of exuberance and maturity with some sprinkling of offensive burst and goal scoring. At 21, Kondogbia just fits the requirements and to add, he would make the long term plan of an era of total and dominant football, if Arsenal are to replicate the ‘Invincibles’ era, a period which saw Arsenal go almost a season and a half unbeaten, when Patrick Vieira dominated the middle.
While it is not abnormal for speculations to rise whenever Arsene Wenger heaps praises or expresses his admiration for any player, Kondogbia, with that showing at the Emirates Cup against Arsenal proved his mettle and showed if given the opportunity, he would own the defensive midfield role in the Gunners’ squad, whether Wenger tempts him to make a move or not.