This name has found its way on to many lips recently, mainly because of his midfield masterclasses against Arsenal in Monaco’s Champions League last 16 triumph. But with Juventus looking to provide stiffer competition in the quarter final, Kondogbia’s performances will no doubt be pivotal in giving Monaco a chance of defying the odds once again, and so I thought it would be fitting to write a little bit about this far from little man.
Having been part of the French side for 2 years after completing what was a relatively big money move from Spanish side Sevilla, Kondogbia is starting to turn more heads, putting in performances of the highest calibre, his physicality and presence in midfield being the standout attributes.
Like always, I’d like to think I thought Kondogbia was good before he was good. I remember watching a Sevilla game and being immediately drawn to his stature, a giant among mere men. Playing further forward, or at least with a more attacking impetus for the Spanish side, Kondogbia has very much become the midfield rock in the principality, and in a side that is praised for its dogged defensive style, the term diamond in the rough certainly seems fitting.
As I mentioned before, at Sevilla he showed glimpses of his ability in terms of getting forward and against Arsenal, for example, he did not only show how adept he was at winning the ball for his team, but also his ability in keeping it. His technical ability is deceptive and in spite of his gigantic presence, he oozes an elegance and confidence with the ball, similar to Yaya Toure at Man City.
However whilst with Toure it has become more and more obvious that he is very much an attacking midfielder, and a very dangerous one at that, Kondogbia’s technical ability and comfort with the ball is simply an added bonus. He has become the heart of Monaco’s midfield and with the aged Toulalan by his side and the diminutive Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho pulling the proverbial strings for the team, it is very much on Kondogbia’s shoulders (his ridiculously broad ones) to keep the opposition at arms length, covering an enormous amount of ground in the process.
Monaco lost Kondogbia for 6 weeks due to a thigh injury earlier in the season, and despite his super soldier like strength, perhaps the sheer amount of work he gets through in a match finally took its toll. However, as I have mentioned, his performances against Arsenal suggested quite the opposite, and if anything, if this injury was his version of being frozen for 70 years after saving the world once, then his return marks his subsequent thawing out and eagerly anticipated return (if you haven’t seen the Captain America films, you’re probably really lost).
He was a wall for Monaco, or more so, a wrecking ball. The amount of attacks he broke up single handedly was again reminiscent of said superhero battling through endless waves of onrushing enemies. If every 50-50 ball was an explosion, then he was always the one triumphantly walking away from it… in slow motion.
Kondogbia too, not wanting to curse the guy, does have that Patrick Vieira aura about him. A humongous, combative central midfielder, whose tenacity and ability to break up play only scratches the surface of the actual ability he possesses. Able to win the ball back and then break forward with it too, Kondogbia is equally as capable as stopping a goal from being scored as scoring or creating one himself.
Vieira’s long legs carried him relentlessly from box to box and even though his defensive duties were of primordial importance, although it was not a frequent sight, it was neither a rare one to see Vieira streaking forward and finishing a move he may have in fact started.
Couldn’t have been more of a thunderbolt if it came from Thor’s hammer itself…
In Kondogbia’s case though, I feel we are going to see many more of these heroic performances, like that against Arsenal, especially given Monaco’s emphasis on not conceding many goals. Perhaps a move to a bigger side in the future is also on the cards (I know I would not begrudge seeing him in an Arsenal shirt).
But for now, the most important thing is that at only 22 years old, Kondogbia has huge potential to grow, both in terms of ability and in physical stature (which is really, really scary). In a few years time we could well be seeing a midfielder less the Super Soldier Captain America I mentioned earlier, more the unstoppable, tank busting Incredible Hulk.
If Carlsberg did extended superhero/Avengers metaphors and/or photo editing…