Tottenham are undoing a revamp of their squad this summer, with another assault on the Champions League qualification berths the ultimate goal again next season. A number of new faces will arrive at White Hart Lane as a result, but a host of the current contingent are also expected to leave the North London club.
Etienne Capoue joined the likes of Lewis Holtby and Paulinho in exiting Spurs recently, with the France international midfielder joining newly promoted Watford.
Although the former Toulouse man cut a forlorn figure last season and was rarely used, was Mauricio Pochettino right to sanction his sale?
Capoue joined the club as one of seven new additions splurged upon in the summer of 2013, with the world-record windfall from the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid burning a massive hold in the Lilywhites’ pocket.
The all-action midfielder looked the part initially and was an impressive member of Andre Villas-Boas’ side in early 2013/14. With a excellent work-rate, dynamism and a physicality that has been lacking in the Tottenham midfield in recent times, Capoue looked like one of the brightest new additions to the club.
However, an ankle injury in the North London derby against Arsenal halted the Frenchman’s progress, with the midfielder on the sidelines for a prolonged period as a result.
Over the last 18 months, Capoue failed to replicate his impressive early performances and has struggled for game time. Under Pochettino, the central midfield partnership of Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb has blossomed and blocked the path to first-team action for the France international. Capoue was also sparingly used by Spurs as a central defender due to injuries, but this ploy backfired and moved to ostracise the enforcer further.
With the 26-year-old only featuring in 12 Premier League games last season, making him very much a fringe player, it is fair to state that his departure will not damage Tottenham’s top four hopes significantly.
However, the counterside to that argument is that Capoue was not given an adequate opportunity to impose himself on the Tottenham team.
A total of 19 Premier League starts in the space of two seasons is a small return for a player that was signed possessing so much promise. There is no reason to believe that Capoue could not have got back to the impressive form he showed early in his Tottenham tenure if he was given more time to get fully fit and adjust to his new environment.
The Niort-born enforcer clearly has ability and has been recognised by the French national side as a result. It could well be that Spurs fans are left scratching their heads next season as Capoue stars for Watford and looks like a reinvigorated figure.
The example of Francis Coquelin at Arsenal is a fitting one for Spurs to look at it in this instance, with Capoue’s countryman looking surplus to requirements in North London, only to impose himself once given a consistent chance.
Capoue may well leave White Hart Lane as a failed experiment, but with more time on the pitch it could well have been an entirely different story.