In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, former Monaco and Spain head coach Robert Moreno explains what makes France international Aurelien Tchouameni such a special talent as the midfielder prepares to join Real Madrid.
Real Madrid have a new midfielder lined up and those who have followed his progress closely believe he can become one of the best in the world. Aurelien Tchouameni is that good.
What Moreno has said:
Robert Moreno knows that better than most. He is the coach who helped to bring him to Monaco and now jokes that he wants to see a percentage of the deal. “They are talking €80m so I will be waiting for a thank-you message.”
“He has become the player we expected.”
During this in-depth interview, Moreno, the former Spain national team coach, will explain the insights and the data that led to Tchouameni signing for Monaco, the qualities that set him apart and the missteps along the way that the youngster soon learned from.
It is a tale that includes lessons from Cesc Fabregas as Tchouameni discovers more about the game – and his own game. And it is a story that, because of the 22-year-old Tchouameni’s crystal-clear vision for his own career, is only just getting started.
As a teenager, Tchouameni had already make the breakthrough at Bordeaux. That was what alerted Monaco to his potential when they were looking for a new midfielder in the January transfer window in 2020. Moreno had just been appointed as their new head coach.
“They did not have a sporting director at the time,” explains Moreno. With Michael Emenalo having left and Paul Mitchell yet to be appointed, the club needed more input from the coach. “I told them it would be difficult to analyse the market but I took it on.”
Two areas to strengthen were quickly identified, one of them being the centre of midfield. Fabregas and Adrien Silva brought experience but youth was needed too. Tiemoue Bakayoko was only on loan from Chelsea. “We lacked something in that position.”
With the help of Adrien Tarascon, brought in from PSV by Moreno because of his expertise with big data, chief scout Massimiliano Notari arrived at a list of 100 names. “I started to watch videos and ask around and we got to a shortlist of four,” says Moreno.
From beyond France, there was Slavia Prague’s Tomas Soucek and America’s Guido Rodriguez, now at West Ham and Real Betis respectively. From the internal market, they identified Youssouf Fofana from Strasbourg and Tchouameni. Both were signed.
“What I liked about Aurelien is that we had information he had his own personal coach to help him. This gives to you a message he has a willingness to improve himself and become a big player. This was the first thing for me that was important.
“After that, I had a call with him to discuss not just football but his feelings and what he wanted for the future. I got the impression that even though he was barely 20 years old, he was extra focused on becoming a big player. He had a clear path for his career.”
At the time, his dream was the Premier League after proving himself at Monaco. Spain was not discussed. But there was a clarity to his thinking, a drive to reach his goals. “This willingness to improve, this focus,” says Moreno. “It is the first thing you look for.”
He adds: “I have coached at Barcelona, with Spain and Monaco, and when players reach that level, they usually have this quality. If they don’t, they don’t reach that level. This is the reality. It is still difficult, but if you are willing and have the ability you have a chance.”