Football is changing. It is getting more physical, as we all witness the battles on the field that take place every weekend in the Premier League and during the week in the European elite (not at all in Spain). It is also more vertiginous, as now it is all about “transitions” (what it used to be counterattacks). Now referees can watch the replay on a TV, even though they make wrong calls anyway. Keepers do not just safe anymore, but now they also have to know how to play with their feet. Central defenders do not just defend, but they also have to be able to play the ball from backwards properly. In new football´s dynamic, the pioneers of the new trend in the game show the way towards the rest´s mutation, and Jules Koundé does so in defense.
Koundé joined Sevilla FC in the 2019 summer market from the Girondins de Bordeaux in exchange for 25 million euros. This quntity made him to become the most expensive sign in Sevilla´s history. There were some people who thought that manager Monchi was crazy, despite his trajectory at finding talent and then duplicating his price on future sells. nothing far from reality, the French man player has not taken too long to prove that the eye from one of the most prestigious managers in the world never makes a wrong choice.
A new concept of central defender:
Jules Koundé is the central defender of the new football because he has nothing to do with the convencional term that we all understand for that position, such as being a tall, strong, aggressive in the tackle and not too technical. All in all, that player that gets the job that he is in charge for done, defend, but that you can´t expect anything else from him. The Frenchman is just the opposite: he gets out of position constantly based on what the action requests. He knows when to move to the wing in order to hold back the striker´s run in transitions or when to wait on his zone to accept the duel. He nows exactly where to direct the pressure, as he is an excellent game reader.
He is a tough defender that does not avoid contact, skilled and elastic, and he wins most of the air balls, despite not being too tall. He is an active defender that looks to anticipate to his mark and who barely needs to go down to the ground to tackle, unlike the typical players on his position. Koundé is a reagent player, that is to say, he does not try to steal the ball right away in the 1vs1 actions, but he holds and waits for the dribbler´s movement in order to go for it and attract him to less dangerous areas to then steal the ball.
As a relevant data, in LaLiga, the frenchman player makes less than a tackle per game (0,9) and he is just overcome 0,4 times per match, according to the stats by WhoScored.com. He waits to the right moment to attack his prey and then runs while driving the ball towards the opponent´s half in order to send a cross to the box or just progress through the middle and end with a shot or just connect with any of the offensive players. He is an all terrain defender.
Koundé, Diego Carlos and Fernando, the balance´s triangle:
Jules Koundé is a very completed defender that can do just everything, but the key for him to be able to provide his team with such abilities is about two of his closest teammate on the field work: Diego Carlos and Fernando. The first one is his partner on defense, but has nothing to do with Koundé. In fact, he is more kind of the typical old school defender, stronger, static and impulsive, maybe too much. A physical animal that looks more for contacts than reading the action, as it is Koundé´s case. They both form a great duo that complements perfectly due to their opposite playing characteristics, which make them to be able to cover up al the aspects defenders need to dominate.
On the other hand, Fernando is Sevilla´s axis, the balance point that acts as the link between defense and attack in Lopetegui´s team. The Brazilian midfielder is a key part because he has any of his teammates´backs whenever they make offensive runs, those that Koundé loves to make when he detects that he can create something. Fernando is the anchor who takes over Koundé´s spot when he goes wild. Moreover, they three are the ones in charge of playing the ball from backwards, as Koundé moves to the right side, Diego Carlos to the left, and Fernando goes to the middle in order to receive or support his teammates and then break the opponent´s lines of pressure through a pass. The Basque Country´s coach has found in this triangle the base to build a reliable team.
An upward central defender:
Jules Koundé is an atypical defender, just as difficult to find in the market as needed in today´s football. He currently has an 80 million euros release clause and his contract expires in 2024. The Frenchman is already in the list of Manchester City and PSG to strengthen their defense, which is the reason why, if everything goes normal, he will become the first central defender ever to be sold for about 100 millions. Koundé leads the new era of central defenders in modern football, he is the precursor of a new kind of defenders that is yet to be exploded. That is what makes this player to be worth (and expensive).