Etienne Capoue had little opportunity to show what he could do at Tottenham last season. Will he get a chance to make a breakthrough at Spurs this season?
Signed from Toulouse last summer, Etienne Capoue was one of the seven players Tottenham brought in on the finances created by the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. A French international midfield player, injury deprived Capoue of the chance to establish himself at White Hart Lane. Does he have a future at Tottenham?
Impressive Debut from Capoue
He made his Tottenham debut in the opening game at Crystal Palace. His cameo appearance from the substitutes bench was noted favourably by Spurs supporters who had high hopes of a positive future for Capoue with Spurs. While another new signing, Roberto Soldado scored the only goal from the penalty spot, it was Capoue who was the ‘Man of the Match’ at Selhurst Park in the eyes of many fans.
The performance against Palace brought Capoue a starting place in the team for the following two games and the north London derby at the end of August. With 15 minutes to play at the Emirates, Capoue was carried off injured and it was several months before he was fit to play again, returning for a Europa League game in late November.
Difficult Time for AVB
Capoue’s return to fitness was a difficult peroid for Andre Villas-Boas with heavy defeats and uncertainty over his future. Injuries in central defence were also a problem forcing AVB to use Capoue in the unfamiliar defensive role. Spurs won at Sunderland and in the Europa League but the defence was pulled apart by Liverpool as AVB’s time at Spurs came to an abrupt end.
In 5 seasons in the Toulouse first team, 26-year-old Capoue made almost 200 appearances and was capped by France on 8 occasions, scoring a goal in a World Cup qualifying match against Belarus. He was pushing for inclusion in the France World Cup squad until his misfortunes of last season.
The appointment of Tim Sherwood didn’t do Capoue any favours as the new manager preferred to use younger players he knew from the Academy with Nabil Bentaleb coming into the team. Capoue started in midfield in the win at Old Trafford but was then reduced to a bench-warmer along with a number of the summer signings. Injury and occasional substitute appearances were Capoue’s lot through the remainder of a season in which he made only 14 starts for Tottenham plus 4 substitute appearances. Capoue did manage to score a goal in the home defeat by Manchester City when he came on as a half-time substitute.
With such limited opportunities, in a constantly changing team Etienne Capoue had no chance to establish himself at White Hart Lane and show what he could bring to the team.
What Does the Future Hold for Etienne Capoue?
Could the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino provide Capoue with the chance he needs to become part of Tottenham’s central midfield. From his few early displays last season, with his energetic, all-action performances and the ability to intercept passes, he would seem an ideal player for the new Tottenham manager’s pressing game.
Etienne Capoue has started both games on tour and while sluggish in the opening match when he played for an hour, he was much more prominent in the second against Toronto as Spurs dominated the opening period to hold a two-goal lead at the interval.
Having played so little football in the last year, it will take Capoue time to return to full match fitness and while he has been linked with a move away from Spurs, could he be making a positive impression on Pochettino in the early weeks of pre-season?
It’s early days for Etienne Capoue as he looks for a chance to establish himself at Spurs, an opportunity he was denied last year.