A starter in each of AS Monaco’s last four matches, Djibril Sidibé took part in all of these matches playing on the right of the Rouge et Blanc defense. After the win against Marseille last week (3-1), the club’s number 29 was necessarily satisfied with the result. Two days before the next match (Sunday at 9 p.m.) against FC Nantes and Raymond Domenech,the world champion spoke about the current form of the team, as well as his start to the season, in a pre-match press conference.
Hello Djibril. How do you explain this good current run of form?
We work hard, we are lucky to have a very rigorous and disciplined staff. Niko Kovac brings a freshness and a winning mentality to a young team like ours. We know the path we have to take to continue this run.
How did you experience the start of the season personally?
I missed the physical side of preseason with the squad as I was coming back from my loan spell at Everton. It was physically challenging, and COVID didn’t help me either. Getting started was difficult after all that. The team was playing well and scoring a lot of goals, I doubled down and worked to get back into shape.
Does COVID have an effect on the body?
Now everything is fine. It’s a strange feeling. I had no symptoms, but I was positive. The stress and adrenaline go up, I thought of my family and friends. It happened during a break, I couldn’t train with the team. I consulted with the medical staff. I did an adapted training program for three weeks to be able to come back at my best.
Had you gone through a period of doubting yourself?
No, in a career you can have ups and downs. When we played in the World Cup, we had very high standards around us. It’s up to me to push myself. I never doubted myself, the real Djibril has to be at 100% physically and mentally.
Does this group have the means to compete in Europe?
I hope so, anyway. It’s too early to talk about it, the team is very young. Everyone is clear-headed and diligent in training. We are taking the matches one after the other. We have to stay this course.
The coach must be happy to have an experienced player like you in a fairly young squad …
We are aware of our qualities, but Ligue 1 remains tight. PSG may be beatable but we remain humble, we take refuge in our work. There’s no reason we can’t finish in the European places if we keep that mentality.
Kevin Volland has a reputation as a joker in Germany. What is he really like?
He’s quite reserved at the moment, but I often talk to him in English, he’s a good teammate. He does not hesitate to give advice, he has an important voice within the team. He has great human and sporting qualities, he is one of the key players this season.
Since your return to the Principality, do you feel like you are part of a new club?
No, there are the same people at the club even though there have been a lot of changes, in what had been two difficult seasons. I’m starting again with a blank slate, I feel the desire of the club to start again in building something solid. The construction of the new training center is proof of this. All of the staff are involved. I hope it will continue like this.
For you, too, is this a new start with AS Monaco?
I had the will to stay here. This is the club that allowed me to play for France and to experience success. I savor it and I enjoy it, the club trusts me, I am there to achieve its goals.
Explain to us your role in a back five?
It’s a little different than at the start of the season. The coach asks us to stay deeper to maintain numerical superiority in case of a counterattack. I communicate a lot with Guillermo, Axel, and Benoît to have five players defending and the other five attacking. It’s a different role but I relish it, it takes a lot of concentration. We are in a good bit of form.
What do you remember from your time in England?
I have had a fantastic season on all levels, in a sporting and personal sense. I had the chance to work under several coaches, including Carlo Ancelotti. It’s a chance to play in some fantastic stadiums, it was fun to play. It was a great experience. Now I’m focused on this season with AS Monaco.
Stevan Jovetić has been efficient in coming off the bench. How does he experience being a substitute?
We all know his qualities. He has had some pretty serious injuries in his career. The majority of the players who have come on during a match have been decisive, with goals leading to wins. Nobody is happy to start on the bench but we have some great forwards in Kevin and Wissam. Stevan has an undeniable technical quality, he is very creative. He works hard and prepares well, he helps the young players to remain humble. We work a lot physically, he is in good shape. I feel he is mentally invested, he is calm, he takes his role as an experienced player to heart.
Is playing in the Euros a goal for you?
It’s a goal, but I’m working on it step by step. I have to continue as I have in my previous matches and perform well for the team. We’ll see later, I’m not focused on it. It’s an honor to wear the French jersey, I want to do it as often as possible. My season has been eventful with the lockdown in England and France and then injuries. We will see as to the future.