Étienne Capoue (born 11 July 1988) is a French professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Watford. He can play as either a defensive midfielder or defender. Capoue was a French youth international having earned caps at under-18, under-19, and under-21 level. Capoue served as captain for a portion of his stint with the latter team. He is the younger brother of Boulogne player Aurélien Capoue.
Capoue was born in the commune of Niort in Deux-Sèvres and began his career playing for hometown club Chamois Niortais. In 2002, he departed the club and joined FC Chauray, a local club in Poitou-Charentes. Capoue stayed at the club for two years before joining Angers SCO in Pays de la Loire. While playing in a youth league match against Toulouse, Capoue drew the attention of the club's scouts who offered the player a one-week trial. Prior to agreeing to the internship, he was also approached by Lille, Auxerre, and Bordeaux. Capoue chose Toulouse because of the club's training facilities and the good weather.
Capoue began his club career with Toulouse in 2006 playing on the club's under-18 team. During the early portion of the 2007–08 season, he played on the club's Championnat de France amateur team in the fourth division making eight appearances. Midway through the season, Capoue was called up to the senior team by manager Alain Casanova. On 8 December 2007, he made his professional debut appearing as a substitute in a 1–0 victory over Lille. The following week, Capoue made his first professional start against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes. Toulouse won the match 2–1 with Capoue playing 71 minutes.
On 7 February 2008, Capoue, along with teammate Cheikh M'Bengue, signed his first professional contract agreeing to a three-year deal until 2011. For the 2008–09 season, Casanova paired the young defensive midfielder with former youth teammate Moussa Sissoko and new signing Étienne Didot, who arrived from Rennes. The trio performed well in the midfield with Capoue flourishing making 36 total appearances. On 18 October 2008, Capoue scored his first professional goal against Bordeaux in a 2–1 defeat. During the season, he also received 14 yellow cards in all competitions, second to only Siaka Tiéné of Valenciennes in the league. For his efforts, he was nominated for the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award and awarded a contract extension until 2013 by his club.
During the 2009–10 season, Capoue appeared regularly in the first team and drew interest from Italian club Lazio and Premier League clubs Liverpool and Arsenal. On 26 November 2009, Toulouse responded to the interest by reaching an agreement with Capoue on a one-year contract extension until 2014. Capoue appeared in 41 total matches for the season collecting 17 total yellow cards, 13 of which came in Ligue 1, leading all players.
In July 2013, Toulouse accepted a reported £9.5 million bid from Premier League side Cardiff City. However, personal terms were not agreed and the deal was not finalised. On 15 August 2013, he completed an €11m (£9.3m) transfer to Tottenham Hotspur.
On 15 August 2013, Tottenham Hotspur officially announced Capoue via their website and Twitter page. The day before the announcement of Capoue, Tottenham and France's first choice goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris told French paper L'Equipe that joining Tottenham is a big step in Capoue's career. He stated his delight to see the fellow countrymen join Tottenham. Capoue made his debut for Spurs on 18 August 2013, replacing Mousa Dembélé in a 1–0 win away to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
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