This summer saw plenty of interest surround the services of Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia. That interest obviously extended to the Premier League, where the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea were said keen.
In the end it was the interest from Arsenal that became most prominent. The Gunners were after a powerful central midfield option and when Real Madrid went for Asier Illaramendi ahead of the young Frenchman it was seemingly plain sailing for Arsenal to get their man.
Kondogbia had a release clause in Seville worth €20 million and had made his intention to leave the Sanchez Pizjuan clear to all onlookers.
But nobody banked on AS Monaco spoiling the party.
The principality liked the look of Kondogbia and figured he would be keen to return to Ligue 1 in a World Cup year.
And it seems he was, after signing a five-year deal at Monaco at the tail-end of August.
Not that Arsenal fans will care now.
They got Mathieu Flamini for nothing instead and he has proven to be a bargain - scoring yesterday as Arsenal went seven points clear at the top of the table.
Meanwhile, things have not gone so swimmingly for Kondogbia in the land of the rich and famous. He has struggled for playing time and when he has played, been criticised for his performances; even his own manager Claudio Ranieri was critical in September.
Now the player himself has admitted his early struggles, and believes coming into the season fresh from the rigours of a FIFA Under-20 World Cup victory may have something to do with his toil so far:
"I think I did not realise how difficult it is to come from the Under-20 World Cup with Les Bluets into Ligue 1 without proper preparation. I felt a drop in my physical level. I felt difficulty to chain several runs in a row during a match. And my accelerations were not very straight either. But with the staff, we saw that there was a problem. So I followed a more individualized program. I will not say that today I am 100% but frankly I'm not far."
Monaco face Nice on Tuesday and Kondogbia will be hoping to get more than the 29 minutes he got against Rennes last night, with rotation a possibility from Claudio ‘The Tinkerman’ Ranieri.
Time will have to tell whether Arsenal missed out, or dodged a bullet, on this precocious talent.
image: © john1710