After arriving this summer from Atletico Madrid, Caio Henrique has gradually discovered Ligue 1, having played in the last five matches (two starts). Author of a remarkable second period against Paris Saint-Germain, the U-23 Brazilian international spoke to journalists two days before facing Nîmes, on Matchday 12 in Ligue 1 Uber Eats.
Just before the Monaco full back’s press conference, here is what Niko Kovac had to say about Caio Henrique in his own press conference: “I’m very happy with Caio’s performances. He finished playing in March because of COVID-19. So he didn’t play for six months and was given time to get back on top physically, as he suffered an injury in Nice during the friendly. He is improving day by day, he works hard in training and changed the game against PSG. He’s in the Brazilian Olympic side, so that’s good for his future. Anyway, a Brazilian with a ball is always wonderful to watch (smiles). We have a great player with Caio for the future, for sure.”
Caio, can you tell us about this remarkable second half that you delivered against Paris Saint-Germain? Does it give you more confidence for the future?
This win against Paris Saint-Germain, to which I contributed by helping the team, gives meconfidence. It was a very difficult game but we managed to win all three points. This gives even more motivation in the work in order to continue to progress, to maintain our momentum and to achieve the objectives of the Club.
Did you speak at half-time with Cesc Fabregas, who, like you, came on for the second half?
Cesc is a player who talks a lot and we always try to pay attention to him. He knows the different match situations and shows us the way forward. On the pitch, he does not hesitate to give us little bits of advice, on our positioning or how to cross. These are natural things: we do not sit in a corner to discuss things in a specific way, it is little advice that he gives here and there to progress and it’s important for me to listen.
More generally, what do experienced players bring to the team?
We are fortunate to have a mix of young players and experienced players. When you talk about Cesc, who is a very important person for the team, obviously you think back to his experience, to the fact that he has already won the World Cup and many other trophies. We can only listen to what he says because he is a good person in terms of advice as one who knows what he is talking about. It’s a pleasure to work alongside him and we have to listen to keep improving.
How is the competition going within the group?
Competition is healthy in our squad. There is a lot of quality at the full back positions, which is a good thing. I just believe that on the weekend the coach chooses the best from those who’ve been training the best and are performing well in matches. This is the number one criterion, and whether to play is up to us.
Before joining AS Monaco, you went several months without playing. How did this period treat you?
I had a very difficult time starting in March. I was in Brazil, I trained every day before the season was over. I then returned to Spain where I unfortunately contracted Covid-19, so I had to wait another month. In the end, it was almost seven months without being able to step onto the pitch and therefore without playing. It is true that it was a difficult time, because it was more difficult for me to come back to my level. I feel like it’s getting better and better and the investment I’m putting into training is paying off, so I’m very happy.
Tell us about your first experience in Europe, at Atletico Madrid.
This time in the Spanish capital helped me a lot. When you come from South America, you’re Brazilian, and you’re going to Europe for the first time, it’s bound to be a difficult situation you have to face. Leaving family and friends is a great way to grow, and this experience at Atletico has allowed me to grow as a footballer and as a person. Today it’s something that has helped me a lot in my adaptation to AS Monaco. I continue to fit in day after day.
Why do you think it didn’t work out there?
I arrived in Madrid at the age of 18. As I just said, this situation was not easy. I didn’t have the opportunity to show my qualities, but I was able to learn a new culture, a new language, play in a new stadium. These are things that have been beneficial to me even if I then preferred to return to Brazil to have more playing time. I think these loans were positive because I came back to Europe with more experience. Today I feel like I’m adapting faster and am more ready for this new challenge.
You are also an U23 international with Brazil — are the Olympics in the back of your mind?
We work to be in the national team as a top athlete. I’m lucky to maybe be able to compete in the Olympics and I’m trying to do everything with AS Monaco to perform well and be called up. It will depend on my level of play. If I work well and perform well, then I could compete.
Do you have the senior team in the back of your mind?
Every player dreams of wearing the Seleçao jersey one day. I remain quite calm about that because I know that it will depend on my performances. If I have a good match, then maybe there will be a call from the manager. I work hard to make it happen, but that’s not what I’m thinking about every day.
Is the Maracana the most beautiful stadium you have played in?
It’s a very special stadium for sure and it was great to play there. The Maracana is a historic stadium in Brazil. All children, young players, dream of playing there one day. I had the chance to play several important games there in front of more than 50,000 spectators, it was a dream that I was able to realize.
To conclude, what do you think of FIFA, a game on which AS Monaco Esports is making its return?
I really enjoy playing FIFA even though I don’t have a console at the moment. I think the last one I played I wasn’t very happy with how they rendered my face and I wasn’t looking my best, but it was kinda funny (laughs). Playing is something I enjoy whenever I get the chance, after training or in my down time.