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Friday, 06 July 2007

4643: He Should Do Well: Younes Kabo


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by : Paul Grech

Whisper it, but Tottenham might just about be copying Arsenal.

For their search for young talent with which to bolster their squad – and build foundations for the future – has been increasingly taking them to France, a market that director Damien Coboli knows all too well having been Wenger’s chief scout there.

It is to France that they turned to bring in the talents of Adel Taarabt and Didier Zokora, two players on whom they are counting on and who will now be followed by Younes Kaboul

Unfortunately for Kaboul what will turn heads, at least initially, is the price paid by Tottenhman. Blame it on inflation, but their acceptance of Auxerre’s asking price of £7.5 million (or £8.2 million, depending on which source you believe) for the French U21 international defender seems excessive whichever way you look at it.

Not that the player is without talent. An imposing figure, his natural strength, tackling skills and timing caught the eye, as did his ability to score crucial goals.

His big chance came following Auxerre’s mass exodus of players in the summer of 2004 that saw them lose defenders like Jean Alain Boumsong and Philippe Mexes, not to mention others like Djibril Cisse and Olivier Kapo.

Most other clubs would have been crippled by such departures but Auxerre’s policy has always been that of investing in youth and giving players their chance when the opportunity arises.

Still eighteen, Kaboul suddenly found himself being increasingly involved in the first team, ending his first season with twelve appearances. Injury the following year restricted him to just nine games but last season he finally nailed down a first team spot playing thirty one of the club’s thirty eight games.

Despite playing for a side that ultimately failed to deliver, Kaboul’s skill shone. Auxerre turned away bids of around £6 million from Inter and it was this interest from some of the continent’s biggest clubs that pushed their asking price up.

That Tottenham were willing to pay so much says a lot about the faith they have in the defender earmarked by some as the next Lilian Thuram. Last season’s long term injury to Ledley King exposed their lack of depth in defence, a frailty that Kaboul will help rectify.

But Tottenham are not looking simply towards the coming season – although, admittedly, it would help make the move seem like a wise investment if Kaboul helps them to the Champions League – but have a longer term plan in place, one where Kaboul will play a fundamental role.

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