Rumours emerged today that Alan Pardew was contemplating another raid on the French market and that 19-year old midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia was the newest name linked with Newcastle United.
Last month it looked like Reims midfielder Romain Amalfitano was on Pardew’s radar, and that still could be the case, Kondogbia plays more defensively and has been impressing for RC Lens this season, although the team from northern France have struggled this season, currently sitting 15th in Ligue 2.
Born in Nemours, just south of the nations capital he joined the Lens academy at 11 years old and steadily climbed the club ranks. It wasn’t long till he was playing for Lens II and surprinsingly made his first team debut in November 2010 at 17-years old. He replaced Toufilou Maoulida in a 3-1 home defeat against Lyon. Making another three appearances before playing mostly for the second team. Only when Lens were relegated did Kondogbia get his chance.
Currently a Under 19 French international he plays mostly as a defensive midfielder, but can be deployed on the left of a diamond, left full back or in central defence. Kondogbia was in the starting line-up as France U19’s were beaten 2-1 by Spain last month. Lining up next to the midfielder was the much heralded Paul Pogba from Manchester United, Kurt Zouma from Saint-Etienne and Lille’s Lucas Digne. A very talented group of young players and Kondogbia definitely deserves his place amongst them.
Kondogbia’s game is not about creating chances or scoring goals, his best attributes right now are his energy, hardwork and maturity. Having played his early first team games in a struggling team it seems to have stregthened his mentality and he definitely shows it in his performances, much like the maturity shown by former Lens players Raphael Varane and Serge Aurier. It would seem Pardew could be lining Kondogbia up as a replacement for Cheick Tiote if he leaves in the next few years.
One problem for Kondogbia would be the amount of developing he still needs to do at his age. Lens are struggling in Ligue 2 and Kondogbia still needs to play as much as possible if he is to reach his potential. Perhaps a move to Newcastle with a loan back to Lens or a Ligue 1 side could be the best option for Newcastle to fully benefit from such an exciting young talent.