Aurelien Tchouameni: Europe’s hottest property linked with Man Utd and Chelsea

World champions France added the Nations League to their collection of trophies on Sunday in a triumph inspired by household names.

Star strikers Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe both netted in the final with teammates Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane all starring in victories over Belgium and Spain.

Yet there was one player whose status within the game is not as established as some of his teammates, but who has enjoyed a meteoric rise and is on the radar of many top European clubs, including Manchester United and Chelsea.

Midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni received his first cap for the French national team in September but has featured in each of the nation’s last five matches, with Sunday’s final just his second international start.

Aurelien Tchouameni played a key role in France’s Nations League triumph
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MATTEO BAZZI/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Monaco signed the central midfielder 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.

Tchouameni partnered Pogba in the French midfield on Sunday against Spain with the two providing an effective platform for their side’s attackers to express themselves with pinpoint passing and shielding of the defence.

The 21-year-old’s Monaco teammate Cesc Fabregas described Tchouameni as “the complete, modern midfielder” with his exact role not suiting traditional stereotypes.

Alongside Borussia Dortmund prodigy and England international Jude Bellingham, the Frenchman has a varied, complete skillset that is helping to evolve and transform the role of a central midfielder.

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.”

Tchouameni won his first international cap in September
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AFP via Getty Images)

“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.

Kovac said: “He takes on his responsibilities in the middle of the park, which is a strategic zone. In that position you need to be disciplined and organise others around you.

Tchouameni was named in Ligue 1’s Team of the Season in 2020/21
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Getty Images)

“When I look at him compared to one year ago, he’s no longer the same player. He’s always trying to learn and understand. He absorbs all the information we give him.”

Tchouameni is the new star of French football and clubs are starting to take notice, with a report from Marca on Tuesday claiming that Real Madrid are now tracking his progress.

He was named as Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year last campaign and was named in the Team of the Season for the division.

His data from the Nations League triumph showed that he successfully made two tackles and four interceptions to break up Spain’s play, but he also played a key pass with only Pogba and Jules Kounde touching the ball more than he did (49 times).

Aurelien Tchouameni has starred for Monaco and France this year
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REUTERS)

Manchester United may be fuelled by how well he links up with Pogba, with whom he shares similar attributes in terms of his technique, vision and physical attributes; able to beat opponents and add strength.

Pogba 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 remains grounded despite his rise to prominence at both club and international level in recent months.

The midfielder has said: “I know that as an international there are greater expectations of me. My status hasn’t necessarily changed.

“The coach gives me advice in the same way.

“When I’m with Monaco, I try to think of the France team as little as possible.

“Being an international gives me a different status but I’m still young and I still have a lot to learn.”

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 – Tchouameni is modelling himself as the complete package.

It will not be long before the midfielder joins his international colleagues as a household name with a host of elite European clubs hopeful that the next stage of his career will be played out in their colours.

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