The rise of Chievo’s Constant menace

Analysing a midfield player who has not scored this season and only been credited with one assist would be considered words wasted in most cases. However, statistics do not do justice to the performances of Chievo’s Kévin Constant in the first half of the season. He has been arguably their stand-out player so far – not an easy feat with the presence of Sergio Pellissier in the line-up.
Constant did not start the season in the Chievo XI – indeed, he did not make his first appearance since his summer transfer from Châteauroux until Week 4. But since that moment he has impressed sufficiently to keep Mariano Bogliacino and Simone Bentivoglio out of the team at varying points in the season.
Initially, he was deployed on the left side of the team’s central midfield trio and offered, amongst other things, a basic skill, but one not often performed by midfield players in Italy – that of entering the opposition penalty area on a regular basis. Born in France but a Guinea international, Constant gave the impression of an Afro-French version of Chelsea’s Frank Lampard at this point.
Then, rather oddly, Coach Stefano Pioli moved him further forward and into the role of trequartista. He struggled at first – against Parma he seemed incredibly unsure of what he was meant to be doing and ended up wandering around with little effect. His switch also coincided with the start of a four-game stretch in which Chievo failed to score, although this probably had more to do with Pellissier’s absence through injury than Constant’s difficulty in adapting.
Pioli recognised the Guinean’s troubles, and swiftly moved him back to his original place in midfield before a minor injury kept him out of the team. His move up the pitch seemed to mirror that of Lampard’s when Carlo Ancelotti first took charge of Chelsea – the distance between himself and the penalty box was not as great, so arriving late and unnoticed became more difficult. He had time to kill that would previously have been spent running forward, and did not seem to be as effective as Bogliacino in using that effectively.
That changed when he returned to the team, as a trequartista, against Inter. Constant turned in a great performance in a particularly memorable 2-1 victory, and gave enough of a display to convince Pioli his future lay in that role. The 23-year-old has now settled nicely into the team, and the Coach’s decision to move him behind the strikers is paying dividends. He is now learning how to kill the time effectively, whilst still maintaining the penalty box threat he offered from the deeper position.
There is more emphasis on finding space in order to get on the ball when floating around between the lines, and the biggest improvement Constant has made is learning how to do this when his team needs it most. It has also given him the opportunity to show off his considerable talents on the ball – he has a wonderful left foot and passing range that he only managed to display once with any effect in a deeper position (against Napoli, assisting Pellissier’s well-taken right-foot volley). With more space between the lines, he has more time to hurt the opposition, instead of running from box to box.
Constant’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, with Milan supposedly interested in buying half of his contract. If the Guinean keeps up this sort of form until the end of the season, the chances of him remaining at Chievo next year are very slim.

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