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Younes Kaboul Has Become The Future Of Tottenham’s Defence

Ka-boom!! For all Spurs fans Younes Kaboul’s 85th minute winner at the Emirates last season was a moment to savour. It wasn’t the first time the French international had scored a crucial goal in a big game. Spurs 125th anniversary game had turned into a bit of a nightmare, being 4-1 down to Aston Villa […]

Ka-boom!! For all Spurs fans Younes Kaboul’s 85th minute winner at the Emirates last season was a moment to savour. It wasn’t the first time the French international had scored a crucial goal in a big game. Spurs 125th anniversary game had turned into a bit of a nightmare, being 4-1 down to Aston Villa certainly didn’t point to a glorious birthday celebration. Kaboul however capped a fine comeback with a rocket shot in time added on to clinch a 4-4 draw. Moments like these mean that Kaboul has built a cult-hero reputation among Spurs fans. There are still a few that harbour doubts as to his ability though, this season he is beginning to answer those critics and show exactly what he’s about.

In recent weeks the media and now manager Harry Redknapp have begun to recognise the contribution he’s making and the potential he is beginning to fulfil. That potential was first recognised at Auxerre, a club that is famed for its academy and bringing youth into the first team. Other Auxerre alumni include World Cup winner Laurent Blanc, enfant terrible Eric Cantona and current French international, Phillipe Mexes. By the time Kaboul was 19 he had established himself as a regular at centre back and was part of Auxerre’s Coupe de France winning team in 2005.

His performances for Auxerre and France under 21’s, who he captained on several occasions, brought him to the attention of Damien Commolli, then Director of Football at Spurs. In summer 2007, Spurs completed the signing of Kaboul for a fee in the region of £8m, a big price tag for someone who wasn’t a household name this side of the Channel. Kaboul made his Spurs debut on the opening day of the 2007/08 season and enjoyed a run in the team for the early part of the year. However Martin Jol’s departure combined with a spell of poor form led to him falling from favour and a time on the side lines. Although it seemed Juande Ramos never really rated him, Kaboul did make a substitute appearance in Spurs successful League Cup final against Chelsea.

The start of the next season though saw Kaboul sold to Portsmouth, for his first spell under Harry Redknapp. Kaboul quickly established himself in Portsmouth’s team and showed that despite what Ramos may have thought, he could make it as a Premier League defender. Once Redknapp had departed for Spurs, to save them from the Ramos debacle, Kaboul was soon on his way back to White Hart Lane. Redknapp hailed Kaboul as a much improved player from his time at Portsmouth and someone who was a late bloomer. This of course is typical Redknapp hyperbole, building up his own part in the players development, while simultaneously belittling what the player had achieved previously.

Since his return to Spurs, Kaboul was often asked to play at right back. This was something he did willingly for the benefit of the team, but despite his athleticism, it is clearly not his favoured role. He did however have a good spell at centre back in Autumn 2010 and was clearly growing in confidence. His performances soon attracted the attention of France manager Laurent Blanc, leading to a call up to the squad for the friendly with England last November. Whilst he didn’t make it on the pitch for that game, by the end of the season he was back in Les Bleus squad. Kaboul made his France debut in a friendly against Ukraine in June, capping his performance with a goal. He has since gone on to make a further three appearances for the national team, including his competitive debut against Albania earlier this month.

This season Kaboul has been able to play at centre back and showed his intent with a solid performance against Manchester United. This was followed by the nightmare at White Hart Lane against City, but he was hardly alone on that front. Since that point Kaboul has gone from strength to strength and is now surely making a strong claim to be first choice, even when all centre backs are fit. His performances have no doubt been helped by playing alongside Ledley King, after all King used to make Anthony Gardner look competent. That isn’t to take any credit away from Kaboul though, he has looked extremely composed and his once suspect concentration has dramatically improved.

That concentration and composure are vital in Kaboul taking his career to the next level. Kaboul’s physical attributes have never been in doubt. At 6 foot 3 inches and built like the proverbial brick outhouse, Kaboul also has good pace and can compete with even the most powerful opponents. Kaboul is a fantastic header of the ball and has shown an improved reading of the game, something that will only continue to develop as he plays alongside King.

That reading of the game and his decision making mean he is now much more likely to know when to step up and intercept, muscling players out the way, and when to hold back and make a tackle. Technically, Kaboul is superior to all of Spurs centre backs except King and is assured in possession. Occasionally this leads to him being a little over confident, but again he is learning to cut those moments out. His range of attributes make him a much more rounded defender than Gallas, Dawson or Bassong and means he can forge a partnership with any of them or King.

With Kaboul still only 25, I’ve made no secret of my belief that he and Steven Caulker are the future for Spurs in central defence and can help us maintain and improve upon our position as one of the ‘big six’ (or whatever moniker is currently being applied). As much as we all wish it were not the case, Ledley King isn’t going to be able to go on indefinitely. Younes Kaboul however has all the qualities and belief in himself to carry on King’s legacy and give Spurs an assured presence at the back for years to come.


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  1. JD

    September 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm


  2. Roy Singh

    September 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I agree that with King’s departure as a player, both Kabul & Caulker can hold their own.I would expect Spurs to hold onto King as a defence coach

  3. DVC

    September 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Kaboul is far from the finished article. Look at the goal against Wigan. He was too upright and close to his man and therfore could not see the ball. Needs to improve this area, and show his man away from goal rather than letting him turn.

  4. Daniel

    September 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    He was responsible for 4 goals in the first 2 games with his poor positioning, ducked under a ball Wolves should have scored from and let the Wigan player get an easy shot for their goal. On top of this he regularly passes the ball to the opposition so no he is not the future. Not a patch on Ledley and Gallas or Woodgate. These are the quality of defender required for the future.

  5. jungle bunny

    September 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    …younes kaboul great athlete learning from few lapses, king best ambassador and tutor difficult to replace need to recruit mature 28. solid center back after woody gallas and king, pairing dawson bassong caulker the others…

  6. RonnyCOYS

    September 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    You’re not holding back – you are obviously totally sold on Kaboul’s qualities but I think a little caution is called for. More than probably any other position a central defender’s reading of the game is paramount and that comes only with experience playing games – something Kaboul doesn’t yet have enough of in the centre. Whilst I agree he looks very promising and hopefully will nail down one of the centre half positions for the next several seasons, I don’t believe he is ready yet to keep Dawson out of the team once he’s fit. Dawson has been immense for us in the past couple of seasons hence the reason why he was made captain. Dawson and Kaboul – now that’s a tasty prospect.

  7. dannymodric

    September 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Cahill in Bassong out!!!

  8. AntiOnan

    September 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Potential yes but not the finished product by a fair shot…still needs that composure under close sustained pressure. His attacking side has improved markedly but he needs a cool head next to him. He will push dawson for no. 3 after King & gallas. Haven’t seen Caulkner yet. Is he cool head positional or all action rugged CB?

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