Ligue 1 Team of the Year: Nicolas N’Koulou

One of the two centre back’s in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year is Nicolas N’Koulou:The Cameroonian centre-back has certainly been a key ingredient for the success that Marseille managed to enjoy in the 2012-2013 season. Now l’OM have the tricky task of holding onto him with the Summer Transfer Window coming into full swing as former employers Monaco look most likely to swoop.

Perhaps N’Koulou’s secret to his success this season is his sheer consistency. He admits: ‘I definitely used to commit too many mistakes. In every game I’d lose concentration once or twice, but now I’m more focused. That’s where I think I have really improved the most.’

N’Koulou is very much a modern centre-back. He is strong and robust, with a keen eye for picking out the right pass out of the back. His passing success rate in Ligue 1 last season was 89.9%. However, his weakest attribute to date is clearly his aerial ability.

Interestingly, Nicolas N’Koulou suffered close to double the amount of fouls than the amount he committed in Ligue 1 last season (40 and 26 respectively). This is evidence to show that he has indeed stopped diving in into tackles. After his 5th season regularly playing in the top flight (first for Monaco and then for Marseille) it is not surprising how maturely he deals with defensive situations. Always keeping a cool head, he has become a leader for the rest of the team and a role model for young fans to look up to.

Taking all this into consideration the fact that the Cameroonian international is only 23 makes his achievements even more impressive. It is therefore no wonder that the centre-back’s future is somewhat in doubt for next season. However, Marseille were at times a broken team last season. Despite finishing 2nd, they conceded 36 goals in the league, which was only the 4th least. Perhaps an uncharacteristic catalogue of mistakes particularly in the second half of the season from Mandanda had something to do with it, but the blame also must lie with the defence.

Either way, there is no denying the Cameroonian’s undoubted talent and that the he deserves to have been in contention for this Ligue 1 Team of the Year. What is the future for N’Koulou? We will have to see.

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