For many clubs, success can be a double-edged sword. While their rise up the league and the exposure that brings can only be a good thing for the club as a whole, such attention can also see a side’s best assets come to the attention of the game’s financial powerhouses. When it comes to the Premier League this season, Southampton look to be the leading example of such a team.
Leading the ranks of those to attract attention from elsewhere this season are captain Adam Lallana, striker Jay Rodriguez, midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and, perhaps most of all, defender Luke Shaw. So impressive have Saints been that they are far from the only players linked with moves away. Fortunately for the St. Mary’s side, though, they have no financial need to sell.
Some departures, though, are almost inevitable and foremost among those is left-back Shaw, who is widely tipped to make a 30-million-pound move to Manchester United -- an offer Saints would find difficult to turn down. Indeed, per the Daily Mail, work has already begun on securing a replacement in the form of Nice’s Timothee Kolodziejczak, one of Ligue 1’s best in his position this campaign.
Born in 1991, Kolodziejczak began life in the same Lens academy that brought through both Raphael Varane and recently featured Serge Aurier. However, at just 17, the player failed to reach agreement with the club over a new contract and, instead, opted to head south to Lyon.
Really impressed with Timothee Kolodziejczak this season. Just missed out on our 11 Best Ligue youngsters list, to Kurzawa. #TalentRadarA French youth international at several age levels and a European Championship winner at under-19 level in 2010, Kolodziejczak was tipped for the very top. At Lyon, though, competition was to prove too tough and, instead, it would be at Nice that his true breakthrough came after a free transfer in the summer of 2012 under the guidance of Claude Puel. But, what is it about “Kolo” that makes some think he is suited to life in England?
— OutsideoftheBoot.com (@OOTB_football) April 20, 2014
The most striking aspect of the Frenchman’s game when watching for the first time is his strong physical attributes. At 6-feet, Kolodziejczak has a long stride length and eats up ground quickly on the left flank. His physical presence also means that he is strong in aerial situations and is normally sent forward by Nice when set-piece situations arise. Overall, Squawka statistics show that he has won 65 percent of his aerial battles this season -- a strong showing for a full-back. In terms of possibly replacing Shaw, there are similarities in terms of the combination of pace, height and physical strength. Like the Englishman, Kolodziejczak is also an excellent passer of the ball and his delivery is a major threat from wide areas. In the 2012-13 campaign, he created 21 goal-scoring opportunities of which four were converted; this season he has created 20 more.
Against Reims on Saturday, Kolodziejczak was not at his best but showed glimpses of what he has to offer. When defending, he positions himself intelligently and, as a result, he made a series of interceptions and clearances for his side. With the ball, he misplaced some passes but was tidy when in dangerous areas. For the most part, his errors were made in seeking to show ambition rather than by misplacing a regulation ball.
Former Poland NT and current Lens scout Joachim Marx said today that Timothee Kolodziejczak wants to play for Poland NT.There are still areas in which he can improve. Despite his pace and willingness to get forward, there are times when he could look to hit the byline but is hesitant in taking on his man. His crossing, also, could be improved and, as yet, does not match the quality of his passing along the ground. Both aspects, though, could easily improve with experience as his basic technical levels are more than good enough.
— Adam Kutarnia (@Polishfooty) September 3, 2012
Whether there is any truth in the links to Southampton remains to be seen, but the Frenchman is undoubtedly of the right profile for the club if and when they seek to replace Shaw. Kolodziejczak is still young, would not cost an excessive fee to recruit and has potential to further improve. For the player, meanwhile, it would be an attractive and, undoubtedly, financially rewarding proposition.
Having struggled to make a breakthrough at Lyon, often stuck behind the now much-maligned Aly Cissokho, Kolodziejczak has proven himself worthy of his early reputation with Nice. Even if a move does not come about this summer, one will inevitably come to pass eventually should he maintain his current performance levels. Ligue 1 continues to be a fruitful scouting region for the Premier League and Kolodziejczak is one of those most likely to be deemed ripe for harvest in the near future.