"FOUR INTENSE MONTHS"
It’s been four months since you arrived here. How are you settling in?
These first four months have been intense. I have been given a phenomenal welcome from all the club’s staff and management, and I feel at home. My family have been with me since the start, we’re all together, and that has been a great help to me too.
The transition from Villarreal to AS Monaco happened very quickly, especially with the UEFA Champions League playoff (Q3)? Was that a special moment?
Yes, it was a special moment but also a very happy one, as we qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. It was emotional but the important thing is that it was very positive for AS Monaco.
"IN FRANCE, CLUBS ARE LESS PROTECTED"
What are the main differences between La Liga and Ligue 1?
From reading the press and watching TV a lot, I see that Ligue 1 wants to be among the big European leagues by attracting the best players every year.
There’s no doubt there are differences in the organising structure. I’ve noticed one big difference, especially when it comes to the European competitions. Spain protects the teams involved in European competition, because it wants to have as many clubs as possible playing on the biggest stage every season. And every year, there are lots of Spanish clubs in the finals and semi-finals.
The difference with France is in the way the clubs are treated. In France, clubs are less protected. In Spain, clubs involved in European competition get more time to recover, and a better fixture schedule. I’ve noticed with AS Monaco that doesn’t happen. Several times we’ve had to play just two and a half days after a game. Honestly, in Spain all these years, I’ve never seen that. I don’t know if it’s a problem with organisation or criteria, I don’t know the exact reason for it. What I can see, is that we’re being penalised as things currently stand.
"A COLLECTIVE EFFORT"
You have a reputation for unearthing talent. Is there a secret to it?
No, I think it’s about work, a lot of investment, commitment, to watching plenty of matches and getting lots of information. In the end, the important thing is the people you work with. It’s not a one-man job, it’s the work of a whole group.
What about the sporting project more generally?
There are a lot of hours in a week! I have a wide-ranging role that goes from the Academy to the club’s management via the first team. I attach the same importance to every aspect of my job, and every part of the club. Each of them needs its time and has its own importance. I try to be present at all levels.
Villarreal and AS Monaco are two clubs known for developing youth. What are the similarities?
Yes, they have similar projects in terms of bringing through young players. As regards the infrastructures, there’s more space at Villarreal. Here too, there are good conditions for training up young players and developing them.
"IT’S A VERY GOOD START TO THE SEASON"
AS Monaco are having a good start to this campaign. Are these first few months positive?
It all started at Fenerbahce, then at Villarreal two tough games that we negotiated well. It’s a very good start to the season for AS Monaco.
AS Monaco currently have the most prolific attack in Europe, ahead of Barça. What’s your view on that?
It’s just a statistic, but it’s important for the players’ confidence. A lot of players are scoring, and that’s positive for the whole squad, the staff and the club. The squad as a whole is being rewarded for its efforts, and that’s important.