Monday, February 6, 2023

Aston Villa Set Sights On This Atletico Madrid Midfield Ace: Why Emery Must Rope Him In

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Pratyay Maitra
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If a report from Fichajes is believed to be true, Aston Villa boss Unai Emery is eyeing a reunion with Geoffrey Kondogbia. But they are not alone in the hunt with Premier League rivals West Ham United also keeping tabs on the Atletico Madrid midfielder.

The 29-year-old former Les Bleus international switched his allegiance to the Central African Republic four years ago. However, he continued to excel in Europe across various leagues since progressing through the academy ranks of Lens back in his teenage days. His impressive stint with the French side earned him a high-profile switch to Sevilla. There he enjoyed a brief spell under Emery before leaving for Monaco. Inter Milan tied him down in the summer of 2015, but he left for Valencia a couple of years later.

The Rojiblancos snapped him up in 2020 after Thomas Partey’s transfer to Arsenal and the midfield ace played his part in their La Liga triumph. Having said that, Kondogbia is no more the assured starter following Axel Witsel’s arrival and the Spanish outfit could cash in on him given his current deal is set to expire at the closure of the 2023-24 campaign.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, grabbed back-to-back league wins for the first time this season. The managerial alteration made an instant impact within the claret and blue camp and the gaffer must now be eying fresh inclusions to put his philosophy into practice for years to come.

Geoffrey Kondogbia

Why Aston Villa Must Secure His Services

Villans are well-equipped in the centre of the pitch with Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara, John McGinn, Leander Dendoncker and Morgan Sanson challenging each other for first-team spots. Even so, they are expected to part ways with out-of-favour Marvelous Nakamba and the departure of the Zimbabwean could see them pushing for a more experienced ‘number six’ during the January window.

Although Kamara is slowly settling down as a deep-lying playmaker, neither McGinn nor Sanson has been comfortable enough from the base of a ‘midfield four’. Luiz and Dendoncker are effective if deployed as double pivots, but they have shown vulnerability while marshalling the backline as an outright ‘number six’.

Kondogbia, on the other hand, is hailed for his strong tackling and intercepting attributes. He often breaks down the opponents’ moves with tactical challenges, also his swift passing skills as well as the ability to pull the strings from the middle of the park should help Villa script attacking transitions. It remains to be seen though if a deal is eventually struck by the Villans ahead of the other suitors.

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