Valencia coach Marcelino is set to hand new signing Geoffrey Kondogbia his debut on Sunday night and he’ll be hoping the French midfielder, signed on loan from Inter, has as enjoyable a first match as he did when he debuted with Sevilla in 2012, winning 1-0 against this weekend’s opponents Real Madrid.
A direct choice by coach Marcelino, the former Sevilla midfielder will be a key option in midfield for the club this season and his impact could be felt as soon as Sunday as Valencia look to shut down a quite wonderful Los Blancos attack.
Kondogbia’s career path has been a rather bizarre one as he left Seville for Monaco in 2013 for a fee of around 20 million euros at a time when Arsene Wenger was interested.
His move to Milan with Inter came for a fee of around 35m euros two years later, yet he has found himself surplus to requirements by Luciano Spalletti.
Marcelino had been desperate to add power to his midfield all summer and in the Frenchman he now has a player who brings brain and brawn in equal measure.
The position is so specialised that teams often struggle to find a perfect fit, especially at the top end of LaLiga where every bit of quality is absolutely necessary.
Stability in midfield is what the Spanish coach now believes he has and ahead of Sunday’s meeting with the champions of Europe, Kondogbia has made clear he is ready for battle.
“I am prepared, I have trained for a few days and physically I feel good and I am ready to play against Real Madrid if the coach needs me,” he explained.
That match kicks off at 22:15 CET on Sunday evening.