If you like your old-school “midfield destroyers”, you’ll enjoy watching Montpellier academy graduate Joris Chotard.

Debuting for Montpellier as an 18-year-old, the young defensive midfielder has long since established himself as an integral fixture in the Ligue 1 side. Now, at 22, teams on the continent have begun to take notice.

And that comes as no surprise. While the era of the “pure destroyer” in the #6 position may have suffered a downturn, when a player this defensively capable becomes available, teams would be foolish not to take notice.

Joris Chotard is an absolute demon off the ball. A player who strives to suffocate and dominate the midfield battle against his opposition. Often deployed in a midfield trio, Chotard typically does not line up in the traditional #6 position, but instead is given licence to roam around the pitch. Hunting down the ball and stifling opposition attacks.

This isn’t a player that will sit deep and exclusively work to protect the backline, but proactively engages the opposition to break up momentum as early as opportunity allows.

It’s a role that requires energy and genuine defensive enthusiasm, but also immense tactical discipline. Knowing when to push and when to drop. When to step up and when to fill in for gaps left behind.

Which makes it all the more impressive that this 22-year-old has accumulated over 100 starts in Ligue 1 already. A player that has been given the trust and room to develop.

Chotard is one of the most effective ball-winning midfielders in all of Europe. Among peers in the top 5 European leagues, he comfortably sits among the top 15% in tackles, interceptions, blocks, and clearances. 

Despite his propensity for winning the ball, the question remains as to whether or not Chotard could fulfil the duties required of the “modern #6” in a top side that values proficiency WITH the ball over all else. 

The statistics don’t paint a pretty picture for Chotard in this regard, but could this simply be down to playstyle and relative team strength? Since Chotard broke into the first team, Montpellier hadn’t recorded a finishing position above 8th, and in the last 3 years have found themselves in the bottom half of the standings more often than not.

Certainly the eye-test indicates that Chotard does possess at least a decent level of playmaking ability. He is composed on the ball and displays a fair level of press resistance, while being more than capable of making line-breaking passes and taking part in attacking movements. 

There’s an intelligence to his ball-playing as well. Typically playing it safe in his own half and when under pressure, with a willingness to take more risks in possession when finding space in the opposition half and sensing an opportunity to open up the opponent with a more ambitious passing attempt.

He’s not Rodri (who is?), and a more possession-heavy role would require time and development, but the building blocks are there. 

And regardless, links to these “mega-clubs” haven’t really materialised yet anyway. Though Chotard doesn’t appear to be short of other suitors.

Over the last year, the list of clubs reportedly interested in acquiring Chotard’s services includes the likes of Monchengladbach, Roma, Sevilla, Villarreal, Nice, and Fiorentina.

Chotard stacks up well against midfielders with a similar profile. Team and league stylistic differences make cross-country comparisons difficult, but it’s clear to see he has the baseline ability to compete with highly-rated defensive midfielders across Europe – many of which have been linked with big-money moves to Champions League clubs.

While there is always the questions of adaptation to new teams and new leagues, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Chotard throwing himself around in a new environment next season.

Joris Chotard will have 2 years remaining on his Montpellier contract at the conclusion of this season, so decision time looms for both the player and the club. With pursuit from various clubs expected in the coming transfer window.