August 13, 2022

Real Madrid will reveal AS Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouameni on Tuesday, after agreeing to join the Spanish champions on a six-year contract for a transfer fee of around 80 million euros, adding yet another another top French talent to their team.

Tchouameni, 22, had been tracked by Liverpool and many of Europe’s elite clubs but was still keen on a move to the Bernabeu. After PSG striker Kylian Mbappe snubbed Real Madrid to stay in Paris, the Champions League winners have splashed out a large sum of money on a player who could be one of the best midfielders in their league. generation.

So what can the LaLiga side expect from the young midfielder? And how far can his career go?

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Tchouameni’s past

After making a name for himself in Bordeaux’s youth teams as an attacking midfielder, Tchouameni made his first-team debut at the age of 18 as a central midfielder in the first rounds of the Europa League. in the summer of 2018.

Tchouameni had already been involved with France’s national youth teams for several years – although he could have chosen to play for Cameroon through his parents – and caught the eye of several top scouts during the European Under-17 Championship and FIFA World Under-17 Championship. Cup in 2017. He was reportedly close to joining AC Milan’s academy at one point but stayed in France and his development skyrocketed.

After a smooth introduction to first-team football during the 2018-19 campaign – during which he played 10 times in Ligue 1 and alternated between the No.6 and No.8 positions in midfield – Tchouameni claimed a regular spot as a retiree. – and defensive midfielder from the start of the following season.

After a string of promising performances in Ligue 1, scouts suddenly appeared to watch his matches and he was particularly notable in Bordeaux’s 2-1 home win over Monaco in November 2019, which won him the Premier League award. man of the match.

Monaco were so impressed that they paid €18m to sign Tchouameni from Bordeaux in January 2020, although it wasn’t an easy start for him in the principality.

The midfielder failed to earn the trust of head coach Roberto Moreno – given his attempt to implement a Barcelona-inspired, possession-based style of play – and Tchouameni ended up failing to make just three substitute appearances in the league in the second half of the season. .

It wasn’t until Niko Kovac – who favored more physical and direct football – took over in the summer that the 20-year-old finally became an undisputed regular, a status he has clung to ever since.

Position

Although he is only 22 years old, Tchouameni has already encountered many tactical reshuffles in his young career; the only constant is that he plays through the backbone of the team – even if given the mandate, he would probably also excel in central defence.

His ability to cover space and regain possession, along with a developing ability to quickly read the play in front of him, saw him thrive as a defensive midfielder and occasionally play a box-to-box role – an idea that grew out of both France coach Didier Deschamps and current Monaco coach Philippe Clément.

Strengths

Tchouameni’s strength and competitiveness in one-on-one (both in defense and advancing with the ball), his speed in moving around the pitch (with and without the ball), his aerial dominance (in open play or on kicks from set pieces) and his stamina were what first caught the eye.

Now he has become even more assertive and effective in winning possession: seven ball recoveries per game last season compared to an already impressive 5.5 the season before.

He has improved his passing distribution and seems more confident finding the right pass or hitting a cross switch. He strikes the ball more often and, above all, has developed a ferocious and powerful shot which he presented a few times last season for his five goals.

Despite his 6ft 2in frame, he remains relatively agile and is able to dance his way out of congested areas in midfield without losing possession, thanks to his balance and coordination.

In addition, he is an intelligent footballer whose sense of reading the game allows him to choose advantageous areas to recover the ball, and who reads the rhythm and flow of the game well enough to understand the best options in the phase of transition.

Crucially for a central midfielder, he is also difficult to dispossess without being fouled (he attracts almost 1.5 fouls per game) and rarely gives it away carelessly.

Areas for improvement

Rather than having to work on improving the basic shortcomings of his game, Tchouameni must mostly continue to make marginal gains. If he’s lined up as a No.8, we could see him making even more runs in the Real Madrid box (where he could potentially take his goalscoring tally into double digits.)

Or if you’re taking a deeper role, it’s about being even bolder when a creative pass is underway. The defensive side of his game is as good as one can hope for without holding back in the future.

where it fits

With all the options at his fingertips, Carlo Ancelotti faces a luxurious headache to keep busy during the brief summer break. In theory, Tchouameni isn’t a similar replacement for Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Federico Valverde or Casemiro, although conceptually – at least comparing the two at 20 – he is the closest to the latter.

What Tchouameni will offer, which the aforementioned quartet arguably lacks to a large extent, is a central midfielder who can break down lines with a strong, penetrating run and offer even more physicality.

Whichever midfield build Ancelotti decides to adopt, the 22-year-old should be able to adapt whether he sits deep or is allowed to move more freely down the pitch. before. And, with him playing alongside 19-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, France and Real Madrid midfielders should be in fine form for the next decade.