Aurélien Tchouameni to Real Madrid: Robert Moreno explains why the French star can be one of the best midfielders in the world | Soccer News


Real Madrid have a new midfield lined up and those who have followed his progress closely believe he can become one of the best in the world. Aurélien Tchouameni is so good.

Robert Moreno knows this better than anyone. He’s the coach who helped bring him to Monaco and now jokes that he wants to see a percentage of the deal. “They’re talking about 80 million euros, so I’ll be waiting for a thank you message,” Moreno said. sky sports.


“He has become one of the best French midfielders.

File Aurélien Tchouameni:

Age: 22 years old

Position: Midfielder

Professional background: Bordeaux 2018-2020, Monaco 2020-2022

French nationality

International debut: September 2021

“He has become the player we were waiting for.”

During this in-depth interview, Moreno, the former Spain national team coach, will explain the insights and data that led to Tchouameni’s signing for Monaco, the qualities that set him apart and the ongoing missteps. road which the youngster quickly learned.

It’s a tale that includes lessons from Cesc Fabregas as Tchouameni discovers more about the game – and his own game. And it’s a story that, due to 22-year-old Tchouameni’s crystal clear vision for his own , is just beginning.

As a teenager, Tchouameni had already broken through in Bordeaux. This is what alerted Monaco to their potential when they were looking for a new midfielder during the January 2020 transfer window. Moreno had just been appointed as their new head coach.

“They didn’t have a sporting director back then,” says Moreno. With Michael Emenalo gone and Paul Mitchell yet to be named, the club needed more information from the manager. “I told them it would be difficult to analyze the market but I accepted it.”

Two areas for reinforcement were quickly identified, one of them being the axis of the midfield. Fabregas and Adrien Silva brought experience but they also needed youth. Tiemoue Bakayoko was only on loan from Chelsea. “We were missing something in this position.”

With the help of Adrien Tarascon, brought from PSV by Moreno because of his expertise in big data, chief scout Massimiliano Notari arrived at a list of 100 names. “I started watching videos and asking around and we came up with a shortlist of four,” Moreno says.

Beyond France were Slavia Prague’s Tomas Soucek and American Guido Rodriguez, now at West Ham and Real Betis respectively. From the domestic market, they identified Youssouf Fofana from Strasbourg and Tchouameni. Both were signed.

“What I liked about Aurelien is that we had information that he had his own personal trainer to help him. It gives you a message that he has the will to improve and to become a great player, that was the first thing that was important to me.

“After that, I had a call with him to discuss not just football, but his feelings and what he wanted for the future. I felt like even though he barely had 20 years old, he was very focused on becoming a great player. He had a clear path for his career.”

Back then, his dream was the Premier League after proving himself in Monaco. Spain was not mentioned. But there was a clarity in his thinking, a drive to achieve his goals. “That drive to improve, that focus,” says Moreno. “That’s the first thing you look for.”

He adds: “I coached at Barcelona, ​​with Spain and Monaco, and when players reach that level, they usually have that quality. If they don’t, they don’t reach that level. is the reality. It’s always hard, but if you want it and have the ability, you have a chance.”

Tchouameni has since developed into a formidable midfielder, making far more interceptions than any other player in France last season. But what did the data say about him at the time? For Moreno, it was different qualities that stood out.

“Even though we were analyzing him as a midfielder, we could see that he had the ability to be a box-to-box midfielder. One thing that isn’t clear at the start is that he plays a lot of passes that beat the lines The data helped us notice that.

“You need passes that break the lines in this role. In England you see a playmaker as a No.10, but in Spain the starting midfielder helps the team move from side to side. Another, like Sergio Busquets.Aurelien’s passing rhythm, his speed, was impressive.

“The other thing with him is his ability to drive with the ball and beat the lines that way because he’s a player who can give the pass or drive with it. It’s rare. You could see that he was a strong player, but the data showed the yards he covered.”

That’s not to say Tchouameni was already the complete player – a point that shone through on his home debut for Monaco against Angers. He replaced Fabregas just before the hour mark with his team a goal clear and determined to hold on to the lead.

“After losing three times in a row, it was an important game for us to break that feeling. The first time he touched the ball, he sent a pass back to the defender without analyzing what was going on. We lost the ball and they had a It was almost a goal.

“He looked at me with both hands praying. He was looking at the bench as if to say, ‘Sorry sir, I’m not going to do this again.’ But that’s normal with young players. You have to be ready for them to make mistakes. It’s an investment that requires patience.”

Aurelien Tchouameni of Monaco

Another example of Tchouameni’s need for improvement came in training. Fabregas told the story at a recent coaching conference, explaining how, as an ‘old dog’, he was able to repeatedly win the ball from his midfield colleagues because they didn’t not properly scanned.

They would scan, see that Fabregas wasn’t there, then he would sprint and take the ball away. Fabregas noted that after one particular session, Moreno quickly made it a priority for Tchouameni not only to learn that ability to win the ball back but also to protect it too.

“Aurélien did not have the ability at that time to position his body so as not to lose the ball. He lost a lot of balls when he played with his back to goal. His peripheral vision was not good at that time. started working on it.

“Cesc was always first on the ball with Tchouameni and managed to win the ball back from him in training. It was a matter of sweeping and body position. We worked on that in training sessions. Not only to keep the ball but also to position yourself for the next pass.

Former Monaco and Spain boss Robert Moreno
Former Monaco and Spain boss Robert Moreno coached Aurelien Tchouameni

“I explained to him that if you’re in control of the ball and you don’t have any information about what’s around you, it’s hard to make the best decisions. You have to look around before you receive, not when you receive the ball. .

“There are examples like Xavi and Busquets. If you count how many times they looked around during a match, it was unbelievable. It was 300 to 400 times. People say Xavi and Busquets have always made the right decision because they knew what was around them.

“I said: ‘Aurélien, if you want to be a better player, you have to control what’s going on around you.’ We worked on this peripheral vision, individual sessions with him, Fofana and Aleksandr Golovin. If you don’t have the information, you will make mistakes.”

What sets Tchouameni apart is how quickly he learned.

“We worked on it a bit and it really improved in just two or three weeks,” says Moreno, still impressed. “It was amazing. You realize you’re working with a top player when he learns something in two or three training sessions and starts doing it in games.”

French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates after scoring a goal during the friendly soccer match between France and Ivory Coast at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, southern France, March 25, 2022. (Photo by Nicolas TUCAT / AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Aurélien Tchouameni celebrates after scoring for France against Ivory Coast in March

He still has some aspects to work on.

“He’s scored eight goals in 95 appearances for Monaco. That’s the only thing he can still improve on because he can shoot from long range and has the ability to get into the opposition box. He can win headers and he has intelligence to analyze situations.

“I don’t know why he has it in his mind to stay there as a midfielder. He has to have confidence in himself to be able to get into the box because he has the quality to score goals.”

Don’t be surprised if that’s a skill he develops too.

“Tchouameni is a different player because he understands football. When you talk to him, you realize that. There are these players who just play. Players who cannot explain what they are doing. He always analyzes what is happening and what is going to happen.

“That’s why I think he’s one of the greatest talents. He’s strong but technical. He’s a complete player. I think he will continue to improve. He could stay at Real Madrid for a while. years and become one of the best midfielders in the world for the next decade.”