He has become a fixture this season in the Monegasque midfield, alongside Youssouf Fofana. Author of a solid match once again against Lens at the end of the French season (0-0), Aurélien Tchouameni contributed in a big way to the team’s qualification for next season’s Champions League playoffs, three years after the Principality club last participated in the competition. With 13 recoveries against Lens, the player who has been the best at this statistic in Ligue 1 in 2021 (187), expressed his satisfaction in the result after the match.
Good evening Aurélien. It’s a wonderful result for you and the team. We imagine that you celebrated in the locker room…
The team’s celebration is wonderful, and I think it’s continuing (smiles). We wanted to get the job done today. Even if we didn’t win tonight, we let off some steam in the locker room because the last few weeks have been stressful. There was something at stake and we responded; now we can savor the feeling of a job well done.
What does qualifying for the Champions League playoffs mean for a young player like you?
Since I was little I have been watching this competition on television, so obviously I am proud to finally be able to compete in it. One plays football to be able to compete in this kind of competition, so it’s an immense point of pride.
No one has made more ball recoveries than you in Ligue 1 in 2021, just as the team has had a superb second half of the season …
The team did well indeed, and our record in 2021 is very impressive. We only lost two games. This allowed me to gain momentum and to string together good performances.
What memories do you recall from the Champions League?
As a Bordeaux youngster, I remember the games I saw in the Stade Chaban-Delmas, especially those against Juventus and Roma. For any player, it is a goal to play in this magnificent competition. Again, before I had looked at it as a child, now I will be able to play in it.
The team suffered a bit in the second half…
Around the 70th minute, I knew there was something going on but I couldn’t figure out what. And then we were told that the result in Lyon was positive for us, we were given the information from the bench. So we started to let up a bit. It was tense until the end, though but that reflects our mood all season. We never give up.
It didn’t matter after all, though…
When we looked at the standings, we said to ourselves that we could not look at the result of the teams behind us. We didn’t want to follow what else was going on too much. I think with less fatigue we would have won that game had it been played in February or March. But the important thing is done, we are qualified.
🔥 Les vestiaires de Bollaert en fusion ! 🔥
Avec la meilleure des musiques… 🥰
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) May 23, 2021
When did you know you could achieve something this season?
As 2021 went on, we saw that we were moving up the table, and we said to ourselves that maybe we could do something. After the game against Saint-Etienne in particular, just before the March break, we thought that we could do something. But I’ll say it again, we took it game by game, and in the end everything that happened was a bonus for us.
And it is clear that thinking like this helped us get what we wanted. After Lyon we thought played as if we had three finals left and we had to do everything to win them all. Once again, while we didn’t win tonight, we finished in third place, that’s the main thing.
Would you say that the “performance bubble” has helped you in this final sprint?
I think it was indeed an advantage for us, because we had a lot of games in this period, and it has kept us focused on our performance. We felt that in terms of team cohesion, in terms of spirit, it helped us. We are a family. Today we’ve finished on the podium, so the bubble has paid off.