Yesterday we were linked to 20-year old Frenchman Geoffrey Kondogbia, and despite there not being a ton in the way of evidence there, I thought we should probably profile him anyway. Kondogbia just finished his first season at Sevilla, and was previously at the same Lens academy that produced Gael Kakuta, Thorgan Hazard, and Rafael Varane.
So what is it that makes Kondogbia so special? His raw athleticism is probably the trait most would point to immediately. At 188cm and about 75 kg, he's big enough that he'd be able to play center back without any question of him being physically capable of handling the position. He's also an exceptional athlete for a man his size...fast, explosive, strong, and possessing a pretty good vertical jump.
Kondogbia is also a very aggressive player, often going out of his way to attempt a tackle or try to intercept a ball. He's very good at it, with exceptional success rates for a player making that many attempts per game. There is also a downside to that sort of aggressiveness though, as he's prone to giving away a high number of fouls despite the fact that he doesn't collect a ton of cards. Long term, it will likely help his team an awful lot if he learns to dial it down a notch, and choose his spots a little more carefully when in his own third of the pitch.
He's also a very good player in the air, especially considering his age and relative lack of experience. He's shown flashes of being a real asset on set pieces both offensively and while defending, although he's certainly still inconsistent at best with his reads.
While the Frenchman was at his best playing as a holding midfielder, he's also played both center back and left back with pretty good results in the past. Some even see center back as his ideal position long term, as it suits his lack of any sort of offensive game very well.
That lack attacking ability is a real drawback in Kondgbia's game, and one of the reasons he's still likely to be a relatively cheap buy this summer. He's a good short passer, but he's got basically no range and really struggles to quickly start the counter after taking the ball from the opposition. We all know that Chelsea need to improve as a squad in this regard, but Geoffrey Kondogbia is probably not going to help in that regard at all.
He's also shown very little willingness to pull the trigger on a long shot, although since he's not particularly good in that regard, that's probably a good thing. If you want a more offensively minded holder than John Obi Mikel, Kondogbia is probably one of the few players on the planet that would actually be a step in the opposite direction.
Also of concern with Kondogbia is a severe lack of maturity. He's got a reputation of not being a particularly hard worker in training, and he's made a series of boneheaded off the pitch decisions with his life. If you're sick of Chelsea being in the headlines for things happening in nightclubs and on the roads, this is probably not a guy you'd be hoping for us to sign.
Here's a quick look at some video of Kondogbia, to give you an idea of what he brings to the table:
Personally I could go either way on a player like Kondogbia. He's the type of no-ceiling athlete that I generally love (see Lukaku and Mangala), but he also scares the Torres out of me with his off the pitch antics. With John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien, and Oriol Romeu all in the fold, I'd probably be pretty happy to see Chelsea take a flier on the type of potential that Kondogbia possesses. That said, I'd be hesitant to pay the type of transfer fee his talent probably warrants, as he's almost certainly going to be a headache off the pitch.