Spurs have been linked to Franck Kessie ever since Fabio Paratici’s arrival in the summer. However, I assumed that interest wouldn’t lead to a deal getting done because Kessie would probably renew with AC Milan.
Now, fast forward a few months. Kessie is struggling to find an agreement over a new deal with AC Milan, with some sources saying his exit is practically inevitable now, as he is a free agent in June.
However, there is another midfielder now being linked with Spurs. Marcelo Brozovic, who worked with and thrived under Antonio Conte at Inter, is now being linked with a potential reunion with Conte in North London.
Brozovic, also a free agent in June, is reportedly struggling to find an agreement with Inter Milan.
Both players could potentially be signed by Spurs on ‘pre-contracts’ starting in January, as they would be playing in foreign leagues with deals expiring in the next 6 months.
A pre-contract agreement is one that sees a player sign with a new club on a free transfer immediately upon the end of his contract at his old club.
Inter Milan have claimed they are not looking to make any sales in January. The Nerazzurri’s sporting director told Sky Italia (as relayed by The Daily Express): “I’m not worried about Antonio Conte and our players. In January we won’t consider any possible exit.”
However, with Brozovic’s contract situation, an agreement on terms with Spurs could force them to change that stance, to avoid losing him on a free transfer.
So, it begs the question, who should we prioritise a move for? For me, I don’t see room for both of them at the club.
I think, knowing how Conte sets up, and what we have, I’d imagine our midfield will look something like this next season (assuming we switch to a 352, which I’d hope/expect we will):
- New #10
- New ‘regista’
So that leaves 2 roles to be filed. We know for certain that neither of these players are #10’s. So, that leaves just the regista role.
For those who may not fully understand what a regista is, it is defined as: “A creative player who operates in front of the defence, almost always in a central position, and looks to get on the ball as often as possible. They are responsible for providing the link between defence and attack, and controlling the tempo of the game through their passing. The regista is also known as the deep-lying playmaker: they retain their deep position and dictate their team’s play with their distribution.”
A regista needs to be comfortable and strong in possession and as a midfielder shielding the backline, also should be good in the tackle and have good positional awareness.
So, who would suit this role better, Kessie or Brozovic? Let’s start by comparing some stats:
- 57.3 touches per game
- 42.4 accurate passes per game
- 2.2 accurate long balls per game
- 92% pass accuracy on the whole
- 73% accuracy on long balls
- 0.9 interception per game
- 1.4 tackles per game
- 1 clearance per game
- 1 penalty given away
- 74 touches per game
- 58 accurate passes per game
- 5.3 accurate long balls per game
- 92% pass accuracy
- 82% accuracy on long balls
- 0.8 interceptions per game
- 1.7 tackles per game
- 1 clearance per game
- 0 penalties given away
What we can imply from looking at these stats is, that, Brozovic is more comfortable and stronger in possession than Kessie is. Despite having about more touches of the ball per game than Kessie, Brozovic has the same pass accuracy %, and a better % of his long balls are accurate.
In terms of more defensive metrics, the 2 players are pretty even, with each player just edging it in various categories.
The reality is, that suggests Brozovic is much better in possession and you’re not losing much from a defensive standpoint if you take him over Kessie.
It’s also worth noting Brozovic was a perfect fit in Conte’s regista role at Inter Milan.
Some will point out that Brozovic is a few years older than Kessie, which is fair, but, ultimately, you have to take into account Conte only signed an 18-month deal, so the focus really needs to be on improving the team as much as possible now.
For me, I just struggle to see where Kessie fits into this midfield in a 352. By the start of next season, when Tanguy and Conte will have spent many months working together, and I’m confident we’ll see him as a much better fit as a #8 than Kessie. And, as I’ve concluded above, Brozovic makes a better regista.
If there is one midfielder Spurs are going to push to get on a free transfer in June, it has to be Brozovic for me.
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