Fire up the transfer rumor klaxon! According to our favorite Italian transfer media source Gianluca Di Marzio, Tottenham Hotspur are one of many (many!) clubs that are now taking a long hard look at 20-year old Ivorian international and Atalanta defensive midfielder Franck Kessié.
You may not have heard of Kessié. I hadn’t until recently. Kessié burst onto the scene at the beginning of the year after a super hot start with Atalanta that saw him score four goals in his opening three matches, ostensibly as a defensive midfielder. He’s cooled off since then, but still has 5 goals this season, which is pretty good for a young DM in a major football league.
Take it away, YouTube highlight video with bad techno music!
So it’s worth noting that of the goals Kessie scored in this video, one is from a penalty kick, another from a set piece, and there’s some pretty shambolic goalkeeping going on here as well. (He’s also wearing two different numbers, which is weird.)
Still, you can see that there’s something Dembele-esque about his style of play: Kessié’s a big, strong dude, and isn’t afraid to use that physicality to his advantage, but he’s also got some halfway decent passing skills. His manager at Atalanta thinks that this physicality in particular is something that could eventually see him succeed at a top European club.
"Technically he has a good foundation and an impressive physical dominance. I guess he can play one day at a big club.
"This is because there is a need for players with his physicality, the Italian teams in do not suffer tactically or technically, but physically. In other leagues there is greater intensity.
"In Italy we have lost the taste for the game in trying to catch up with the gap in athleticism.
"Kessie, in this sense, can become an important player because he has everything."
Kessié’s a full Ivorian international with ten caps, but Di Marzio notes that there are likely significant work permit issues at play that might be mitigated after this January’s African Cup of Nations. A ton of clubs are linked to him at this point including Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool (get your own scouts), Juventus, Manchester United, and Napoli, among others.
This is more or less a nothing rumor, so we probably shouldn’t get too worked up over it at this point. It’s extremely unlikely Spurs would make a move until summer, and a lot can happen by then. This kid, however, looks to be Diet Dembele at this stage in his career, and could be one to keep an eye on as Spurs continue to look towards the future. Keep this one in your pocket.