Real Madrid beat Liverpool to Tchouaméni deal

Photo Credit: AP

One of the rising stars of French football, Aurélien Tchouaméni, put pen to paper in June with La Liga giants Real Madrid. It was a six-year deal that the 22-year-old defensive player signed as he teamed up with the reigning European champions.

Real Madrid will have seen it as a big capture, after Liverpool, the team that they beat in the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final, were also in the transfer market for Tchouaméni. It has been another coup for Los Blancos as they stay ahead of the competition.

Liverpool lose the Tchouaméni race to Real Madrid

Real Madrid dealt Liverpool a heavy blow when they met in the UEFA Champions League Final. A 1-0 success for the Spaniards, who had been the match underdogs, saw Madrid extend their record tally of titles in the competition.

It was a record-extending 14th European Cup/Champions League title for Real Madrid, leaving Liverpool further behind with six.

The only goal of the game came from Vinicius Junior in the 59th minute at the Stade de France. That was Real Madrid’s only shot on target during the entire match. While Liverpool had nine shots on target during the fixture, Real keeper Thibault Courtois shut down the Reds time and time again.

There was another summer success for Madrid over the Reds to follow, this time in the transfer market.

Los Blancos beat the Anfield club to the signing of Aurélien Tchouaméni. Liverpool’s interest in the player had been noted as part of their evolution of their midfield. He was seen as the ideal backup to Thiago, but the player’s preferred destination of Real Madrid stung Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.

The choice by Tchouaméni also hints at just what status being crowned European Champions can have when players make their decision of who to sign with. The statement transfer for Real Madrid leaves Liverpool having to go looking elsewhere if they want to strengthen in that defensive midfield area.

Liverpool have signed attacking players Fabio Carvalho and Darwin Nunez. But none of that helps them in the defensive midfield area. It may see Liverpool turn their full interest to England international Jude Bellingham.

The winning deal

Tchouaméni cost Real Madrid around 80 million Euros plus bonuses. So this was a big signing for the European champions. It is a huge investment in a young player, who Madrid clearly sees as being part of their future. It’s not just a move that keeps a top talent away from potential Champions League rivals, either.

It will further strengthen Real Madrid’s set-up in its own right. It wasn’t just Liverpool that Real Madrid beat to get the Tchouaméni signature on their books. As always in transfer rumours for the latest football news, there were several other clubs reportedly interested in signing him. Premier League clubs Manchester United and Chelsea, along with French champions PSG were touted as being possible destinations.

But Tchouaméni selected Real Madrid where he will team up with another brilliant French youngster. Tchouaméni’s compatriot Eduardo Camavinga moved to the Bernabeu last summer. That’s an extremely exciting future partnership that the two could have in the Real Madrid midfield.

Both have already broken through at the senior international level. Camavinga made 26 La Liga appearances for Real Madrid last season and did make a substitutes appearances in the UEFA Champions League Final against Liverpool.

Where does Tchouaméni fit at Real Madrid?

The acquisition of Tchouaméni is very interesting because the French youngster is a different kind of player from anything that Real Madrid currently have in terms of starting options. Tchouaméni is a lot more dynamic and physical than any of their other options.

He is certainly not a direct replacement for either Toni Kroos or Luka Modric from a creative standpoint. But he’s not so far at the other end of the scale in being the midfielder enforcer type that Brazilian Casemiro is.

Perhaps the closest comparison is with Federico Valverde in a way, as the Uruguayan has that versatility. Valverde can operate in the defensive midfield area and has slotted into the right back spot as well. He’s even been pushed further forward as a right winger.

While it’s highly unlikely that Tchouaméni is going to be seen raiding down the flanks at the Bernabeu, the work rate is comparable.

Aurélien Tchouaméni has the engine to be a real box-to-box player. It’s this added dimension that is an exciting feature of the youngster’s game. With a fantastic aerial ability, competitiveness and getting stuck into winning the ball back, he appears to have everything in his locker.

Versatility is the key to Tchouaméni’s future

Tchouaméni possesses the ability to break forward, to get beyond the opposition’s midfield and support attacking players. He is such a powerful runner that he is going to trouble the opposition just by driving straight at them.

But it’s the overall versatility in Tchouaméni’s game that Real Madrid are going to benefit from. While that drive from midfield is going to be a joy for the Madridistas to see, if he’s instructed by Ancelotti to keep the brakes on, he has another side to his game.

Tchouaméni’s natural game is supporting the midfield. With time and space, he can spray the ball around from the base of the midfield. During his young career, he has been used both in midfield and in defence.

What kind of playing time can Aurélien Tchouaméni expect?

It’s all down to head coach Carlo Ancelotti, to figure out just how to get Tchouaméni involved in the team. How to get the best of one of the most exciting talents in Europe? There is a little conundrum ahead for Ancelotti, who was coy when answering questions about how much time he would give Tchouaméni in the forthcoming season.

Tchouaméni may get used in different roles initially at the club. That will allow the head coach the time to see how he really gels with his teammates and exactly who he should be lining up with. There may be days when he is asked to get forward more.

Appearances in bigger games, like in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, then that is when Tchouaméni’s natural defensive side may be more heavily leaned on.

While Tchouaméni is expected to be a huge part of Real Madrid’s future, the current situation is likely to see the young French international finding his place.

From the player’s perspective, the 22-year-old is probably going to want to make one position his own. The appeal of being a utility player following his dream move to the Bernabeu probably isn’t high.

But is that the initial role that he will have to fulfill? Will head coach Carlo Ancelotti use that versatility to bolster the team from the bench, before fitting the new piece into the starting line-up puzzle?

Where it started for Aurélien Tchouaméni

Tchouaméni began his career with Bordeaux. It was in a UEFA Europa League fixture that he made his first team breakthrough in 2018. He made 25 appearances in all competitions for Bordeaux before fellow Ligue 1 side Monaco came in for him.

Late into the January transfer window in 2020, Tchouaméni made the move to Monaco, signing a four-year deal. It was there, under the guidance of Nico Kovak that he really started to impress. In the 2020/21 season, Tchouaméni won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Award.

He was listed in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year the same season, and for the 2021-22 campaign as he took his game to new levels. Helping Monaco to take a top-three finish in the division, earning the reward of a place in the Champions League third qualifying round, Tchouaméni’s stock went through the roof.

He moved to Monaco for €18.00m in 2020. Two years later his transfer market value has more than quadrupled.

International career

22-year-old Aurélien Tchouaméni has already had a taste of full international football with France. It has been quite the journey for him to get to that top level. Since linking up with the France U16 side during the 2015/16 season, Tchouaméni played at every international youth level as he worked his way up the ladder towards the first team.

He was first called up to the senior side by Didier Deschamps in late August 2021. Just a few days later he was handed his first cap. Tchouaméni got onto the pitch as a substitute in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He will likely be heading to the FIFA World Cup later this year. He should be embedded into the final squad that will be chasing a title defence in the tournament. By then Tchouaméni will have had roughly half a season under his belt as a Real Madrid player.

He will have had his first taste of UEFA Champions League group stage action as well, as he becomes part of Real Madrid’s title defence in that competition. So Tchouaméni will be facing a lot of high-pressure scenarios in this forthcoming season.

Should the upward curve of his career continue, then he could muscle his way into starting line-up considerations. That’s not only on the domestic front but for his country on the World Cup stage too.