There is a saying that the cream rises to the top and in the case of Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Kouadio ‘Manu’ Koné, the rise has been quick and the number of suitors ready to siphon off the cream is increasing.
After just one full season in the Bundesliga, the Foals are already having to fend off enquiries from Premier League clubs with Newcastle United one such club sniffing around Gladbach’s 21-year-old midfield dynamo. The North-eastern club were reportedly prepared to offer Gladbach €35 million for his signature- an offer that was instantly rebuffed by the German club. And its easy to see why.
After signing for Gladbach for €9 million from Toulouse in January 2021 he was instantly loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for the rest of the season. Once in the Bundesliga for the 2021-22 season, he set about impressing from the off. By the end of the campaign, he ranked 9th overall in terms of tackles won (4th overall in the midfield third) and also ranked 9th in terms of successful pressures. He ranked 9th once again for passes made under pressure from an opponent (272).
He made 27 Bundesliga appearances (26 as a starter) with Adi Hütter often playing him a little more advanced in midfield. He is naturally a box-to-box midfielder and has been favourably compared to Steven Gerrard in that respect. He is however also comfortable as part of a double pivot in the popular 4-2-3-1 formation and that is where he has been deployed thus far this season alongside Christoph Kramer.
His ball-winning ability is top drawer and, once in possession is able to get passes off to the wings or advanced forwards. He does have a tendency to lack discipline at times and commit silly fouls (10 bookings last season), but his work-rate cannot be faulted. He was possibly signed as a longer-term replacement for Florian Neuhaus, but such has been the impact he has made, he’s made himself indispensable alongside Kramer with Neuhaus deployed further forward. That might still be his ultimate role however.
Coach Daniel Farke is impressed with what he has seen so far this season. “It was not an easy start to the season for Manu as he missed a lot of pre-season. We have to find a good balance in terms of workload management, because on the one hand we need to find some consistency for him, but on the other hand, he needs to remain fit to play. He had a very strong game against Hoffenheim, but there were ups and downs against Schalke.
“He’s doing well in training, and it’s good that he’s got another training week under his belt. We need him at 100 percent fitness.”
There is a very good reason so-called ‘bigger’ clubs are after him and a very good reason why Borussia Mönchengladbach have every intention on keeping him- he’s a top talent with the potential to get even better. Watch this space!