Earlier this month, midfield prodigy Florentino Luís left Benfica for AS Monaco on a season long loan. After a difficult 2019/20 season that saw him start just eight games, the U17 and U20 European champion arrives in France looking for an increase in his playing time in order to aid his development and fulfil his enormous potential. Aaron Barton for Próxima Jornada caught up with European football expert Julien Laurens to get an insight into what Monaco can do for Florentino and what Florentino can do for Monaco.
Aaron Barton: First of all, do you think AS Monaco is a place where Florentino can grow and develop this season? Is he at a club that places great emphasis on youth development?
Julien Laurens: I think Ligue 1 is the perfect league for talented young players like him. We see it every season. Young players, whether coming from academies or after a transfer from abroad, are breaking through in Ligue 1 because it is a competitive league but also physical, tactical but yet not as strong as the Premier League for example. Ligue 1 is a feeder league so every club gives a lot of importance to the development of young players, even the top clubs like PSG or Monaco. For Monaco, a player like Florentino is a win-win situation. They have got a great talent which they will develop. They will be hoping that he shines and stays after this season if they can make a deal happen, and then, they would sell him for much more money in a few years. And if they can’t keep him because he did really well, they still would have had him for a year and can be happy with that.
“I am delighted to have joined AS Monaco and to have my first experience abroad. This new step represents for me a great opportunity to discover a new football horizon in one of the top five major leagues, but also and above all to continue my progress at a club with high ambition and high standards.” – Florentino Luís via AS Monaco
AB: In terms of the Monaco squad, who is Florentino’s biggest rival for game time? Given that he can play in defensive midfield as well as further forward in central midfield, who’s place is he looking to take and do you think this was a position Monaco needed to fill?
JL: There will be some competition for him in midfield. In recent games, we saw Cesc Fàbregas coming into the first team as a starter and playing in a deeper Pirlo-esque role which fits him very well. So Florentino will fight for the other two positions in midfield. So far this season, the two players who played there the most are Aureline Tchouameni and Youssouf Fofana, two young players (21 and 20) who have a similar profile to Florentino. Tchouameni was sent off at the weekend so there might be a chance for Florentino. Sofiane Diop has also played as an 8 and did well. So did Aleksander Golovin who is currently injured. And when Golovin is fit, he would probably be an automatic starter too.
“Luis corresponds in every respect to the player profile we were looking for to bring more dynamic competition to midfield. His physical attributes and his aggressiveness in duels will be additional assets that we are glad to put at the disposal of Niko’s squad.” Paul Mitchell, Monaco sporting director via AS Monaco
AB: What can you tell us about the coach, Niko Kovač and his previous history with bringing through younger footballers, what can Tino learn from Mister Kovač?
JL: Niko Kovac is a good manager for him to develop and learn because he is tough but very good tactically. He is demanding but likes working with young players. He knows that part of the job is developing young players like Tino. He trusts his young players and they learn a lot from him. There is also a lot of experience in the squad like Fabregas or Ben Yedder so Tino will learn from them as well.
AB: Lastly, Ligue 1 has been a place where Portuguese players of late have rediscovered their best form (Renato Sanches, José Fonte), do you think this league is a good place for Tino to grow and develop. What will he learn from playing in France and what are the key differences in your opinion between France and Portugal in terms of footballing style?
JL: The difference is that the game is maybe more technical in Portugal but more physical in France. Ligue 1 is a tough league where you can’t hide. You have to be complete as a midfielder and it will make Florentino a better player for sure.
AS Monaco face Brest on Sunday afternoon at 14:00 (UK and Portuguese time), lets hope Tino can get some minutes and show Ligue 1 and beyond what he is capable of!
Big thanks to Julien Laurens for lending his expertise for this article.
By Aaron Barton