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Daniel Levy's Imaginary Shortlist: Yann M'Vila

Cultured playmaker or incorrigible boatrocker? That's the (eight) million-pound question.

Ian Walton

Welp. I really thought with the events of last summer long behind us and in light of Harry Redknapp's apparent determination to sign him whatever the cost, Spurs' association with the name Yann M'Vila was done and buried forever. But with the likes of and the Metro throwing the weight of their acetone credibility (ahem) behind a possible Spurs swoop for M'Vila again in light of Sandro's injury, I guess slapping together one of these pieces has suddenly become a nigh-on inevitability. So without further ado...

The Basics

Name: Yann M'Vila

Age: 22

Team: Rennes

League: Ligue 1 (France)

Primary position: Defensive midfield

Can also play: Central midfield

The Specifics

Considering the short space of time in which he's occupied a first team spot in Frédéric Antonetti's Rennes, Yann M'Vila has done a lot to boost his notoriety on the world stage. A lot of this has stemmed from his exploits on the pitch. An incredibly accomplished quarterback-style defensive midfielder, M'Vila is blessed with that rare combination of physical strength, passing ability and tactical nous, and had used it up until recently to cement a place in the new generation of wonderkids in the French national side (note the use of "had" there very carefully. It's important).

His creative passing and defensive solidity affords the teams he plays in supreme box-to-box confidence both in the shielding of the defense and the ability to play out from the back. The superb balance to his game was illustrated last term by his averages of 2.5 interceptions, 3 tackles and a key pass per game, plus a pass completion rate of 83.2%, which is impressive for a player who favours longer and ambitious balls from deep. He could slot in logically as the deepest part of a midfield three for Spurs but could also play competently in a pivot, allowing AVB to make a wholesale switch to his favoured 4-3-3 or provide some tactical continuity by slotting him in directly in the role favoured by Scotty Parker and Sandro.

"That all sounds wonderful!", this all might lead you to exclaim. "Why haven't we tried to snap him up already?" Well, we did actually, launching a bid for him over the summer worth a rather sizeable bid (for Spurs) in the region of £12-13m. OK, you ask, well if he really has shown the promise you say he has and is in the midst of his peak value years, why hasn't a bigger club come along to snatch him? Good question, and one which allows me to segway into an explanation for the other main factor in the development of M'Vila's notoriety over the years.

See, the thing is- and I really do want to put this as delicately as possible- young Yann is kind of a giant asshole. So much of one, in fact, that many believe his behind-the-scenes behaviour of late may have scuppered his chances of the elite move his on-pitch achievements have merited. First of all, there's the small matter of the fact that he's been jailed three times for incidents including assaulting someone after a bout of road rage, using prostitutes, and punching a teenage boy in the face. And oh boy, that's just the warm up.

At the Euro 2012, M'Vila decided to use the limelight afforded by the tournament to fully illustrate to the world the epic heights of refined assholishness he could achieve if he puts his mind to it. Following the tournament, he was stripped of his unpaid bonus for refusing to shake the hand of his replacement Olivier Giroud or his manager Laurent Blanc after being substituted in his country's fixture against Spain.

Sadly, these incidents have come to characterize M'Vila's career to the point where bizarrely, signing a player of his calibre should at all costs be considered a gamble. Is it one Andre Villas-Boas is willing to take? If he can get Yann on the straight and narrow, he could have a supremely talented deep-lying playmaker on his hands that would keep the side ticking over for a decade. If it all backfires, he could end up introducing a toxic element into a seemingly closely-knit and ambitious dressing room.

The Verdict

Likely price: £8m is the valuation tagged to recent reports of his move to QPR. This is roughly £10m lower than what he is worth, but consider the reasons stated above.

Probability that valuation is wrong: Stratospherically high.

Team's willingness to sell: It's been plain to see that he's too good to stay at Rennes for at least a year. As with many players discussed in these shortlists, they can't hold on to him if a big club moves in.

Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Just great. Seeing him line up with some of our other midfield options in a fluid three-man triangle would be a dream.

Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Probably still low. I don't think Daniel Levy is going to have a buying window this year unless someone releases a little cholera into the dressing room.

Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: B.