The French international Tchouameni was at the top of the club’s wanted list amid links with a move to both Anfield and Madrid. But Tchouameni, who had also been touted as a target for Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, has decided on a move to the European champions.
The star midfielder has moved to the Spanish capital for a fee in the region of £68million, including add-ons, but only after Reds boss Jurgen Klopp made significant efforts to convince him of a switch to Merseyside. Klopp made a special trip to Monaco in order to convince the Frenchman to move to Anfield, while he also held a phone call with the midfielder. But what was behind Liverpool’s and Real Madrid ’s desire to land the player, why was he Europe’s hottest property?
Monaco signed Tchouameni from Bordeaux in January 2020 when he was still a teenager and he is seemingly set to carry on the club’s tendency to sign players for modest prices before – inevitably – selling them on for a huge profit.
The Ligue 1 club have recruited Youri Tielemans, Fabinho, Allan Saint-Maximin, Thomas Lemar, Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Anthony Martial, to name several, in recent years before developing them and cashing-in on their sales. The 21-year-old’s Monaco teammate Cesc Fabregas has described Tchouameni as “the complete, modern midfielder” with his exact role not suiting traditional stereotypes.
The perception of Tchouameni has been that he is a holding midfielder due to his positioning and ability to break-up play, but that would ignore his full range of capabilities. France Under-21 coach Sylvain Ripoll worked closely alongside the midfielder in his development and he told a recent interview with L’Equipe that his attacking game has developed significantly.
Ripoll explained: “Defensively, he’s capable of running for 90 minutes at very high intensity. He always puts his opponents under pressure. He’s very good at reading the intentions of his opponents. He can play in a variety of ways but is monstrous when he has the game in front of him.
“He has a great shot on him and has really improved that aspect of his game over the last two years. He has become much more ambitious in terms of his attacking play.”
Tchouameni’s qualities go beyond his defensive responsibility, technical ability and adeptness at carrying the ball forward but his mentality has also received glowing references. France boss Didier Deschamps called his adaptation to senior international football “an example” to young players while Monaco manager Niko Kovac labelled him a “real leader” who is constantly looking to improve.
Paul Pogba – who Deschamps paired alongside the youngster for France’s Nations League success last year, the Monaco player’s first taste of senior international football – said of Tchouameni: “He’s not a boy, he’s a man.
“It’s a pleasure to play next to him, he provides a lot… plenty of energy, technical quality and extraordinary physicality. I hope to play plenty of games together and always be on his side.”
Tchouameni was named as Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year and has been named in the league’s Team of the Season for successive campaign. This big move has been increasingly inevitable.
Alongside Borussia Dortmund and England star Jude Bellingham, Tchouameni is the most prominent example of how the role of a central midfielder is evolving with a range of skills capable of running games, rather than prioritising either the shielding of defence or adding to attacks. These are players who are the ‘complete package’ of talents in the middle of the pitch and are leading a new generation of stars.
Tchouameni now enters a midfielder including Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde – its little wonder that others are fearing the resources at Real Madrid’s disposal.