Georges-Kevin Nkoudou signs for spurs in an €11 miilion deal.

How Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will change Spurs

A two-footed dribbler with pace to burn who can run off the striker, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will bring some exciting times to Spurs this season.

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou has all the hallmarks of a Paul Mitchell signing. Our departing head of recruitment specialises in unearthing quick wide dribblers that can stretch opposing teams.

At Southampton, Mitchell identified Sadio Mane, Eljero Elia, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long to help their cause on the flanks. For Spurs, his choices of Son Heung-Min, and Clinton N’Jie had varying degrees of success last season.

This term, Mitchell hopes to unearth another gem as Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will aim to bring his exciting skill set to the Premier League.

Two-footed dribbler

Two-footedness is a new dimension that Mauricio Pochettino wants to add to the team. Son Heung-Min is equally strong with either foot and so too is new addition Vincent Janssen, but Pochettino wants more.

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou becomes the latest Spurs player that is equally comfortable with both left and right. It makes him hard to guard for defenders, as he is equally capable of hitting the by-line and crossing with his left or cutting back inside to shoot or play a through ball with his right.

The former Marseille man also has pace to burn. He is lightning quick from a standing start and his previous club took advantage of this. They would look to get the ball out to him as they entered the final third, so that Nkoudou could beat his man and initiate attacks.

Georges-kevin nkoudou passes received and take-ons for marseille vs PSG.

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou passes received and take-ons, Marseille vs PSG.

Nkoudou’s trickery and ability to often go from a standing start saw him do two things. Firstly, it stretched the opposition defence. To contain him, cover was often drawn over. Secondly, it aided them to break multiple lines. Being able to go through the first, and even second line of the opposition’s defence, with just one player causes maximum destruction with minimal resources. His team mates can then get free much easier for him to create high-chance scoring opportunities from pull backs or through balls.

Dribblers that can get motoring quickly to stretch and break opposition lines were Mauricio Pochettino’s desire from transfer deadline day. Moussa Sissoko also arriving means that the manager now has two new options.

Running off the striker

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou isn’t just a stand his man up dribbler. He also has the ability to link with and run off the striker. This is important for Mauricio Pochettino, as he often has our striker come short and look to drag the opposition centre backs with him. This then creates space for others to burst in to beyond.

We often saw this last season with Harry Kane acting as a pull effect to create space for others, most notably Dele Alli, to go beyond him.

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou often did this for Marseille, working in tandem with Michy Batshuayi. The centre forward would come short to draw the opposition centre backs up, leaving space for Nkoudou to use his searing speed beyond.

Georges-kevin nkoudou runs off striker Michy Batshuayi.

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou jets beyond Batshuayi and the CBs.

Already having experience of this should help Nkoudou settle in to our system of play much quicker. A real bonus with him is that he rarely strays offside, something that players who operate this way often fall foul of. Nkoudou was caught going too early just 13 times in 28 Ligue 1 games last season, highlighting his good sense of timing.

Pressing passion

An ability to press the ball is something Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will also bring. He is very active in looking to hound defenders, strip or recover loose balls.

Marcelo Bielsa is one of Mauricio Pochettino’s biggest influences. Georges-Kevin Nkoudou worked with him for a couple of months before ‘El Loco’ left Marseille, but the influence has remained. “Before attacking, you have to know how to defend well,” Nkoudou said during Bielsa’s tenure. “That is what is asked of us in training: press, press and press.”

Nkoudou certainly has the speed to shut down the opposition quickly, which will serve him well under Pochettino. He also has good stamina to continue making high intensity runs to not give opponents a moment’s respite.

Speedy progression

A real upside to Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is just how quickly he has progressed in his career and how coachable he is.

After graduating from Nantes under-19 side he quickly established himself in the first team. Then, a season later, he moved to Marseille and became a regular in a matter of months. He seems to progress much quicker than expected.

The key might just be in how coachable he is and how he listens to instruction. After signing he told the official Spurs website “I listen, that is one of my strengths. If I want to keep making progress, I have to keep listening.”

Coaching, crafting and improving young players is what Mauricio Pochettino does best. Having a young, malleable talent that can be weaved in to the system wouldn’t have gone unnoticed when scouting him.

Concerns about Georges-Kevin Nkoudou

There is a lot of upside to what Georges-Kevin Nkoudou does, but also some concerns.


He is extremely fast with the ball, but this can often see Nkoudou out of control. He is equally likely to complete a mazy dribble or his final pass as he is to make a real hash of it.

Last season for Marseille, he was their most dispossessed player with 3.6 per 90 minutes. He was also third on their list for unsuccessful touches with 3 per 90 minutes on the field.  Losing the ball 6.6 times per game won’t cut it in the Premier League.

His final ball also needs work. His crossing completion was just 18% when it needs to be at least in the mid-twenties. For comparison, our other aggressive dribbling signing from transfer deadline day, Mousa Sissoko, completes crosses at 29%. The Premier League’s elite are at 30% plus, so there is lots of room for improvement.


Faster players can often be susceptible to more leg injuries and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is no exception. He missed 10 games last season for Marseille with both hamstring and thigh injuries. The season before he missed 7 games for FC Nantes with similar problems. Keeping Nkoudou healthy could be an issue.

How Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will change Spurs

A two-footed dribbler with pace to burn who can also run off the striker, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will bring some exciting times to Spurs this season.

Nkoudou’s ability to dribble from either a standing start or on the move will aid us in puncturing stubborn defences that park the bus. His capacity to close down quickly will also help us to regain the ball much higher up the pitch. What’s more, Nkoudou’s speed will facilitate much quicker transitions between defending and attacking.

Georges-Kevin Nkoudou still has a lot to learn and the Premier League will be a big step up for him, However, he is high coachable and has an attitude that should see him make the grade.

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17 Responses to How Georges-Kevin Nkoudou will change Spurs

  1. Matt 2nd September 2016 at 9:29 pm #

    Philosophies and tactics aside, is there anything more exciting than a great dribbler leaving a man for dead? Have there been many more exciting Spurs players than, say, Gascogne or ginola in full flight? Being two footed is a big bonus.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 2nd September 2016 at 11:52 pm #

      It’s a thing of beauty! One of things that is worth the price of admission!

  2. Markt 2nd September 2016 at 9:38 pm #

    Best dribbler of the ball it was ever my pleasure to watch was Chris Waddle.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd September 2016 at 12:01 am #

      A highly underrated talent, wish he’d stayed for longer!

  3. David 2nd September 2016 at 11:55 pm #

    …of course am reading, can’t miss out on an analysis by spurs fanatic…
    The integral key will how Pochettino will rotate and change the lineup completely( wait for Gillingham at home).. and with other competitions to come. Our new signings had better heard of the phrase Hit the Ground Running..

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd September 2016 at 12:04 am #

      It’ll be interesting to see how Poch plays the League and FA cups this season and just how seriously he takes them. I think Sissoko will do fine from the off, as he knows what the PL is all about. Nkoudou will take a little longer. Home to Gillingham would be perfect for him.

  4. Ses 3rd September 2016 at 12:48 am #

    Great point mark and fundamentally true,
    I only wished we could of used only half the Sissoko fee and bought Boufal to complement nkoudou coz those are type of players we lacked in final third.
    There’s no need for Sissoko there’s wanyamma
    Dembele who could play alongside Deer,
    And boufal nkoudou cos havoc up front.
    Mark my words and watch Boufal take premiership by storm and then everyone will wonder how they missed that one when it was staring them in the face!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd September 2016 at 10:01 am #

      Boufal is going to be good, but Southampton paid £21m for him, so we may have got involved in a bidding war. I also think Poch wanted PL ready for this season so went with Sissoko. Boufal is also coming back from knee injury sustained last season, so there may have been some concerns there.

  5. SP 3rd September 2016 at 3:30 am #

    Not wanting to rain on your parade but wasn’t he recommended personally to Pochettino by his mentor, Bielsa?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd September 2016 at 10:06 am #

      I’ve read those links but I’d also heard from sources that Mitchell has been watching him since he moved from Nantes to Marseille.

  6. james 3rd September 2016 at 11:47 am #

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the analysis on these two additions. Does the fact that Sissoko’s piece was published within hours of signing mean you’re a bit less exited by Nkoudou?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd September 2016 at 5:01 pm #

      Hi James. No not at all. The Sissoko signing was the bigger news due to the way it happened on transfer deadline day, so did that first as thought they’d be more interest as he is a ready to go in the team signing. I’m actually more excited about N’Koudou as I think he has really great potential. I saw him in a few games as I was watching more Marseille matches after we were linked with Batshuayi, so I’m quite excited to see what he can do, how quickly he progresses and just how many chances he gets.

  7. Kin 4th September 2016 at 10:50 am #

    Someone mentioned him as being a slower version of N’jie…I don’t necessarily agree though

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th September 2016 at 1:42 pm #

      Its quite hard to tell, both are pretty rapid to be fair.

  8. SumDude 9th September 2016 at 1:58 am #

    I know it’s the end of the transfer season and that this is pyre hearsay but The Guardian are predicting Sane to get the nod over Iheanacho. if he really is their third choice striker then he would be an amazing signing for us. I know he only plays one position and isn’t known for his pressing but his strong foot is a goal machine, he’s fast, intelligent, and hellah young! If Guardiola is looking to offload then that looks like great business for us… just saying.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th September 2016 at 2:39 pm #

      I’m a big fan of Iheanacho and would defintely go after him if available. I can’t see City letting him go though. With Bony out on loan and looking to be on his way, Man City only have Sane, Iheanacho and possibly Nolito to cope with this exact situation ie Aguero is out either injured – which he often is with muscle tears and strains – or suspended. With four competitions to compete in, I can’t see Guardiola leaving himself that thin on strikers by letting Iheanacho go. When Bony went on loan, I was actually susprsied they didn’t bring anyone else in during the window.

      • SumDude 10th September 2016 at 12:02 pm #

        I think you’re right but they’ve got a history of shedding Strikers (Negredo, Baloteli, Dzecko, Jovotic) who at the time of leaving probably would have been welcomed into our team. Each one left for their own reason but it’s still a nice thought to dream on. (Looks like Iheanacho is starting anyway)