The 22-year-old Frenchman will join a team that has just won La Liga and the Champions League but is already focused on the next challenge. Madrid are as relentless an institution as they come and much of the rhetoric around the club since the season ended has been about the drive for a 15th European Cup.
That is what defines Madrid. They have missed out on Kylian Mbappé, the man they had designed their transfer activity for the last two years for, but they have moved to strengthen an already strong team.
The midfield options at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal are now looking healthy indeed. Tchouaméni will join his compatriot Eduardo Camavinga as well as Fede Valverde, Luka Modrić, Casemiro and Toni Kroos in a six-man roster. Given Madrid generally play with a three that is an incredible depth chart – quality, experience and potential. One would imagine Dani Ceballos will leave the club this close-season.
The on-field boost of recruiting a player of Tchouaméni’s calibre is self-evident. But was there also an emotional need to make such a signing after the public snub by Mbappé?
“After winning the Champions League there should not have been as the club and the team have proved that they can be successful with minor additions to the current squad,” Spanish football expert Eduardo Alvarez told Football España. “But we all know that things do not work that way.
“Florentino Pérez wants to show that Real Madrid are still a big player in the transfer market and that is why he has become personally involved in the negotiations for Tchouaméni. I do believe that he will still make a couple of moves to reinforce the squad as well as remind everyone that the club is still a force to be reckoned with.
“I guess they are overpaying but the fact is that the player has plenty of options and all of them can pay big money. Even with the addition of Antonio Rüdiger and Tchouaméni there are still a couple of positions that need to be reinforced like full-back (both sides) and centre-forward. To me those are high priorities as the team has suffered when the starters in those positions have not been able to play or were below-par. Midfield seems well covered with Valverde, Camavinga and Ceballos, who have played big roles in the last two months of the season. But I guess it will help to have an alternative to Casemiro.
“Modric (37 in September), Kroos (32) and Casemiro (30) are all going to have to manage their minutes carefully next season. They all played more than they should have this year but now there are solid alternatives to give them rest. This was not as obvious when the season began. With Tchouaméni arriving there are now seven players for three spots so I guess the squad is in more than decent shape.
“Those youngsters are going to be privileged players, being able to learn their trade at the highest level from such a successful trio. That said, I do believe that, despite the fact Kroos sets the tone of the team, the hardest player to replace will be Modric. His calmness on the ball and ability to unlock defences with his passing and dribbling are a gift. And talented as they are, none of these youngsters have that gift.”
That is not to say that Tchouaméni is lacking in gifts. Far from it. Born in Rouen to parents of Cameroonian descent, Tchouaméni actually grew up in Bordeaux and it was with them he took his first steps as a footballer, joining from SJ D’Artigues at the age of eleven. He broke into Bordeaux’s first team at the age of 18 and was picked up by Monaco two years later after 37 first team appearances.
Since arriving at the Stade Louis II he has played 95 games for the Ligue 1 side, contributing eight goals and seven assists. He has also become a French international, earning nine caps for Les Bleus and scoring one goal for them. This season Tchouaméni has made 50 appearances for Monaco across all competitions, providing five goals and three assists. His statistics are impressive – he ranks in the top 15% of positional peers across Europe’s top five leagues in passes attempted, progressive passes, shots taken, successful tackles and aerials won. He is in the top 1% for successful interceptions.
“He is a defensive midfielder,” French football expert Tom Williams told Football España. “Tall, rangy, tough in the tackle. He uses his body well, reads the game extremely well and is an absolute machine when it comes to ball recovery. He has neat feet and he is a progressive passer. And although he does not score many goals, he strikes the ball really well – see his recent long-range double against Lille. A very complete player and really fun to watch too.”
“I think he is a complete midfielder,” French football expert Julien Laurens told Football España. “He can play in a double pivot or in any position in a three. He is strong physically but also good on the ball and he has a really high footballing IQ. His best position is without doubt as an eight where he has the freedom to go forward and chase the ball. He is aggressive and strong in the duel and now he has added goals to his game. He is also more efficient than he was a year ago.”
“He is really, really, really good,” Williams continued. “He only made his France debut last September but a month later he was starting alongside Paul Pogba in the final of the Nations League [against La Roja, a game France won]. He is nailed on for France’s World Cup squad, possibly even as a starter. He is seen as the long-term successor to N’Golo Kanté even though, physically, he more closely resembles Pogba. He was voted Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Season in 2020/21 and was similarly consistent this season despite Monaco having a bumpy first half of the campaign.”
“He is great already and the sky is the limit,” Laurens continued. “Because he is so intelligent he will develop his brain and his tactical knowledge as he gets older and becomes more experienced. He has been fantastic for Monaco for the last 18 months with a little dip in form at the beginning of the season. With France he has amazed everyone with how quickly he has adapted and performed, especially having never played in the Champions League.”
Tchouaméni will go from having never played in the Champions League to representing a club that has won the thing 14 times, twice as many as the next most successful club in Milan. He will be competing for minutes with players who have five Champions Leagues to their name – how will he cope with that?
“He has played most of his football at Monaco in a two-man midfield alongside Youssouf Fofana, so would likely have to adapt to playing in a midfield three at Madrid,” Williams opined. “He could probably occupy any of the three midfield positions but I think the most natural fit – depending on the opposition – would be as a number six. In terms of how good a fit Madrid are, I guess we will have to wait and see!
“I think the most important thing for him will be regular playing time. He is older than Camavinga and at a more advanced stage of his career than Camavinga was when he joined Madrid, so he will expect – and is good enough – to feature more regularly than Camavinga has to date. Provided they are properly looked after the two of them could run Madrid’s midfield for the next ten years.”
“I think he will fit perfectly,” Laurens opined. “They need someone powerful like him who can do everything and will be ready to take over from the older guys. He is hungry to learn and very ambitious so he will settle quickly and be an outstanding player for Real Madrid next season.”