Yesterday, we reported that Toulouse midfielder Étienne Capoue was rumored to be on his way at out of the Pink City club. Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and AC Milan were listed as possible destinations, but would he be a good addition for Spurs?
Name: Étienne Capoue
Team: Toulouse FC
League: Ligue 1
Position: Defensive Midfielder
Can also play: Midfield, Central Defense
Étienne Capoue made his debut for Ligue 1 side Toulouse in 2007 at the age of 19. Since then the French International has gone on to make nearly 200 appearances for le Téfécé. He fostered an excellent partnership in midfield with current Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko. Capoue is now regarded as one of the top defensive midfielders in all of football. TFC manager Alain Cassanova has called him the best player that the club has seen in the last 20 years.
One of Capoue's greatest traits is the versatility he shows all over the pitch, not just in the positions he can play but the skills he has to be able to adapt to suit whatever role Casanova asks him to fulfil. This season alone he has played in central defence, central midfield and as TFC's midfield anchor. For any coach to get the best out of Capoue the smart thing to do is let him roam the midfield, his intelligence and leadership will make sure he's in the right position at the right time.
Capoue is at his best when playing a deeper lying position in midfield. His range of passing is excellent and he seems to consistently have time on the ball and is very adept at finding pockets of space, receiving the ball with plenty of time to make the next move. Standing at around 6'2", Capoue then uses his muscular frame to break forward, striding past the odd defender before finding an open man with a beautiful pass over the top, or finding one of his open teammates.
Last season Capoue tied for the Ligue 1 lead in passes completed per game with 63.9. However, his pass completion percentage was a much more pedestrian 80%, but he still managed .7 key passes per game.. For comparison sake, Tottenham's leader in passes per game was Mousa Dembele with 48.7 and he completed about 90% of them. Scott Parker completed 84% of his passes.
In addition to his passing Capoue is also an aerial threat and has scored a number of goals from set pieces. His height and physicality make him a ball winner on the order of Everton's Marouane Fellaini. Capoue managed seven goals in all competitions this season.
All that said, Capoue also makes a major defensive contribution to his team. This season he contributed 2.4 tackles per game and 2.6 interceptions. He also averages 4.9 successful clearances per game, showing just how important of a cog he was in Toulouse's defense.
Likely price: €12 million, according to TransferMarkt.
Probability that valuation is wrong: High. Toulouse's president came out last week and said that the club are facing a "slow and disastrous death" if their financial situation does not improve. That means that the club may be forced to part with Capoue at a much lower price than they would like.
Team's willingness to sell: High. As above, Toulouse are in financial trouble and need to capitalize on the resources they have. That means we could see a number of players leaving TFC this summer. Capoue, Frank Tabanou, Aymen Abdennour, Cheikh M'Bengue, and Sereg Aurier are probably le Téfécé's best assets so seeing them leave is incredibly likely.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Pretty good. A midfield three of Sandro, Capoue, and Dembele would be one of the most physically imposing teams in the Premier League. However, it would also be an incredibly defensive set-up. Capoue is a good passer, perhaps better than his passing percentage indicates, but he's no Luka Modric. He provides excellent cover for both Sandro and Dembele because he could easily play both positions, but his fit as an immediate starter is questionable at Spurs.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Low. I think he's a perfect fit and I wouldn't be surprised if Tottenham make an approach, but a club like Arsenal, who are playing in the Champions League, need Capoue a lot more than Spurs do. If he ends up in England it will almost certainly be with our North London Rivals.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: B+. Capoue would be a great addition to Spurs. He provides excellent depth and cover and he could certainly start in games where we want to play a more defensive midfield. He's an amazing player and at 24 he'd fit in great with the rest of our young core. The only thing keeping this from being an A is the fact that his passing isn't quite good enough to be the Luka Modric type that this club needs to really drive its attack.