Kouadio Kone, France’s next breakthrough midfielder
Written by Jackson K
Kone is a 21-year-old right-footed central midfielder who can play in a pivot as a 6 or as an 8, where he can use all his attributes to their fullest potential. This Piece will be looking at Kone’s current ability and which top teams would massively benefit from signing the young Frenchman. As such understanding the role Kone plays and can play for each team is important. His ability and usage in a double pivot are separate from that of an 8, however, this work will identify the strengths he has and how to utilize him in both roles.
Kone is a strong driving midfielder who loves to play in tight spaces forcing opponents into pressing him. This fast-paced style of play lends itself to Kone’s ability to pass through a press with ease. In the past year, Kone has averaged 11.21 passes under pressure per 90, putting him in the 93rd percentile of midfielders to do so. Kone also has a high 92%* short passing accuracy and 88% overall passing accuracy, exemplifying his electric style of high-risk play.
When playing as an 8 Kone is able to use his dribbling to the fullest potential ranking in the 98th percentile of midfielders for successful dribbles per 90 with 1.94 from an attempted 2.84 p90 on average. This role also sees him look to carry the ball further up the pitch, averaging 128.42 meters of progressive ball carrying per 90 and 0.37 carries into the box, which puts him in the 84th percentile of midfielders to do so. This extra attacking dynamic in midfield would help teams deploy the increasingly popular 235 on the attack, which recently saw Arsenal punish Sevilla 6-0, and is used consistently by Pep Guardiola.
If using Kone in a double Pivot his defensive numbers are also at the top level. Averaging 2.76 interceptions p90, along with 7.87 successful pressures p90 Kone’s aggressive style of defending can leave him open to being passed, and leads to Kone’s largest defensive flaw, that being his consistent fouling. On Average Kone commits 1.94 fouls per 90. This is something that a club has to be willing to risk and why there would be some hesitancy to sign him, due to his rash nature and willingness to put in a professional foul, even if his last red card came back in the 19-20 season.
Although Monchengladbach finished tenth last season and lost their best defender to fellow Bundesliga club Freiburg on a free, Kone will continue there for this season. He is currently on the side lines following a minor knee injury and it seems unlikely that any club would be willing to purchase him currently, however, if he was to leave I feel that Most of the Premier league’s top clubs would benefit from his signing immensely. However, there are three premier league clubs that should go all in for Kone. These being West Ham and Chelsea, with the obvious Newcastle, shout as well. All three of these teams would benefit from the signing of Kone, with West Ham being included in the eventuality that they sell Declan Rice. Kone would play as the 6 for both Chelsea and West Ham, Either as a lone 6 for Chelsea or in a double pivot likely next to Soucek for West Ham and Newcastle using him as a more traditional box-to-box mid.
Chelsea’s lack of success in the current transfer window has left them in an awkward spot, needing reinforcements in almost every part of their team if they wish to continue competing with Liverpool and City. Chelsea currently has 1 competent 6, that being N’golo Kante, who has left the traditional 6 roles he was once playing, and now plays in a similar position to that which Kone currently plays at Monchengladbach. His signing would provide flexibility to Tuchel to play in a 3 or 4 at the back, providing midfield depth to play in a 4231, or next to a strong box-to-box, such as Kovacic or Gallagher in a 343.
For West Ham Kone’s ability to drive into the box would be more pronounced, as he would create their diamond shape in the midfield as the right-sided defensive midfielder. In West Ham’s current system Rice is given the freedom to become an offensive outlet, which would allow Kone’s top-level dribbling to keep pressure on opposing teams, while also upgrading onto the current backup options West Ham have.
For Newcastle Kone would play in their midfield three next to Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton as a box-to-box, with Guimaraes likely taking a more defensive role in the three. As the left-sided mid, Kone would be given the ability to push forward in a continuously growing Newcastle team, as they create the platform for them to push into Europe in the next two seasons, building a strong spine consisting of young upcoming players can be a key to their success, with Kone being the next step over Sean Longstaff or Jonjo Shelvey.
Although unlikely to get a move in this window, Kone looks to be one of the gems that haven’t been snatched by a club at the top, and as such is a rare piece of the economy in this window. If Monchengladbach is able to utilize him to his fullest potential this season his value will skyrocket and still only at 21 he can become an absolute top player, although unlikely to reach the same level as Jude Bellingham or Tchouameni, Kone is definitely one to watch this upcoming Bundesliga season and could be France’s next star midfielder.