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Player Profile: Aurelien Tchouameni

As per ESPN , Chelsea have been linked with a move for 21-year-old French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, currently at AS Monaco. 

According to the same report, the player was scouted and monitored under ex-boss Frank Lampard, but remains a long-term club target.

Tchouameni represents an interesting profile; standing at 6’1, he has primarily played as a defensive midfielder in Niko Kovac’s Monaco side, which alternates between a 4-4-2 and 4-3-3. Tchouameni has only missed one Ligue 1 game, as Monaco sit 4th after 23 games, and is ranked the third highest performer in the team by Football Critic.

Similarities can be made to Declan Rice, who Frank Lampard made a transfer priority, as well as Blues of the past like Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel. Tall, agile, and integral in breaking up play across the midfield and feeding it to creative outlets.

Whilst Chelsea have an array of midfield talent out on loan this season - such as Conor Gallagher, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu, not to mention 19-year-old Billy Gilmour, the squad is arguably lacking an out-and-out defensive midfielder. Tchouameni could offer this defensive option in a Chelsea midfield yet to fully find cohesion.

With N’Golo Kante and Jorginho both 29, the club will look to pursue a young player in this position as part of Chelsea’s long term vision and project.

Tchouameni broke into the Bourdeux team in the 2018/19 season aged 18, where he played in four out of six Europa League group games, as well as 10 games in Ligue 1 as Bourdeaux finished 14th.

The following season, Tchouameni featured in 15 of Bourdeaux’s first 21 league games, 13 times in a deeper defensive midfield role. After Paulo Sousa was appointed as Bourdeaux boss in March 2019, who chopped and changed formations frequently, Tchouameni drew comparisons to compatriots N’golo Kante and Paul Pogba - high-energy, agile and tenacious, with the ability to come forward with the ball and pick out a pass.

His positive form generated interest from various clubs across Europe - including Inter, Torino, Sampdoria, Bayern Munich and Wolves. It was fellow French side AS Monaco that moved for Tchouameni in the January window, after paying €17.5million for the youngster, who linked up in midfield with ex-Blue Cesc Fabregas.

Tchouameni made three appearances off the bench for his new club before Ligue 1 football was cancelled, with Monaco 9th. He drew praise from the Monaco Tribune who described him as “a superb piece of business” - and applauded his all-round game and adaptability.

“Tchouameni intervenes with conviction and confidence to stop attacks dead … able to cover ground efficiently, the 20-year-old’s running power ensures he can get back quickly so his team can regain structural stability”.

Tchouameni’s statistics for the season certainly appear solid - an average pass completion of 87.9%, 5.46 accurate passes into the final third per 90, 1.14 dribbles per 90, and 4.66 interceptions per 90.

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In fact, in May, Real Madrid were linked with a move for the player, as per Football Espana, who are also tracking 18-year-old Eduardo Camavinga.

Tchouameni’s progression can be seen in his heat maps comparing the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons. He covered a lot more of the pitch and was more active in a lot of zones, able to contribute in all aspects of the midfield:

Tchouameni has continued his upwards trajectory into this season in a Monaco team that has won seven of their last eight games, with the player cautiously hopeful of a Ligue 1 title charge.

After only missing one league game due to suspension, he has been ranked Monaco’s fifth best performer by WhoScored, being named Man of the Match twice. He is completing 39 passes per 90, with 19 in the opposition's half, as well as contributing 4.7 tackles and interceptions per 90, and a 61% dribble completion rate.

Tchouameni has refined and strengthened the roundness of his game - setting a personal high this season for passes completed, shot-creating actions and tackles. He has the third most tackles and interceptions in Ligue 1, the fifth most through balls, and seventh most progressive passes.

He looked mature and calm in games versus PSG and OGC Nice, registering a 7.8 SofaScore rating in both. In the latter game, Tchouameni won 10/12 ground duels, 2/2 aerial duels, and made 11 tackles and interceptions.

In a 4-4-2 set up, used 10 times this season, Tchouameni partners Youssouf Fofana in a midfield pivot, with Gelson Martins and Sofiane Diop out wide. However, in the eight games that Monaco have used a 4-3-3, Tchouameni has partnered Cesc Fabregas and Diop in midfield, often doing the defensive work that allows Fabregas and Diop to utilise their attacking instincts.

This versatility could allow Tchouameni to sit deep as an “anchor in midfield”, allowing Mason Mount and Kai Havertz to roam in offensive positions. At the same time, he is capable as a pivot, and could partner N’golo Kante or Mateo Kovacic in this role.

In many ways, this move shares similarities to that of Tiemoue Bakayoko, who joined Chelsea from Monaco in 2017 for £40 million. Both players impressed in their ability to kill counter-attacks, and launch attacks of their own, with progressive dribbles and passes.

Whilst Monaco may demand around the £40 million mark this time for Tchouameni, he certainly represents a cheaper option than Declan Rice, who West Ham initially priced at £80 million.

With the likes of Ethan Ampadu and Ruben Loftus-Cheek still on the books, and Billy Gilmour highly regarded at the club, Aurelien Tchouameni may be one to keep an eye on for a big move to a top club sooner rather than later.

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