After his first official matches with AS Monaco against Reims (2-2) and Metz (1-0), Niko Kovac was the guest on “Au Coeur Des Clubs”, this Thursday September 3 at 12:30 pm, on Telefoot, the new Ligue 1 Uber Eats broadcaster. For this occasion, he answered questions from Marina Lorenzo — here are some exceprts.
We will do this interview in English, but maybe next time it will be in French?
Hello everyone (in French). I am trying to improve my French, it is not an easy language but day by day I am learning. Unfortunately to speak the language it takes more than a few words of vocabulary, more than bits of sentences.
There have been three cases of Covid-19 reported in Paris Saint-Germain, what about Monaco?
I know this is a very difficult time, not just for football, but for everyone. In Monaco we are trying to do our best. Currently we do not have a positive test (only one two weeks ago), but we are doing our best to protect ourselves. We hope everyone stays healthy, but you never know what tomorrow will bring.
You have just signed Kevin Volland who you will know from the Bundesliga, what attracted you to him?
We are very happy that Kevin has joined us. He’s a German international (10 caps, one goal), who played really well at Bayer Leverkusen but with his previous club as well (Hoffenheim). I think he’ll help us a lot to be in a better position in the standings than last season (9th). So I’m delighted, but not just me, but Oleg Petrov and Paul Mitchell as well, we’re sure he’s going to make a difference for us.
👟⚽💨𝙆𝙚𝙫𝙞𝙣 𝙑𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙙 🇩🇪 pic.twitter.com/WlfQveOHVN
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) September 2, 2020
Are you going to change your system to involve both Kevin Volland and Wissam Ben Yedder?
No, I do not think so. Kevin can play three different positions, as a striker, with another forward or on the wings. He’s a really very versatile player, so that’s important to me. I don’t want to change the system, but if it has to happen in a match, I know Kevin can adapt and be flexible.
Will Wissam Ben Yedder stay at AS Monaco this season?
Yes, of course. Wissam is very important for us, he is a player of very high quality, he is French international (8 caps, 2 goals), in a team that was world champion. He’s our captain, he’s a role model for us, for young players. He worked very hard in preseason. I’m sure he’s going to score quickly this season, he’s working really hard for it. He’s going to create chances and score soon I’m sure, and I’m looking forward to that. Once again he is a very important player and he will stay at AS Monaco.
Axel Disasi, Caio Henrique… Tell us about a defense that you have strengthened, was this a priority?
We are really delighted with the new players we have just signed. Axel is a very good defender, very imposing athletically but also very fast. In the first match he even scored, and our goal was really this, to strengthen our defense, with someone who really knows how to be a leader in that area. And Caio Henrique is also very talented, he is a technically very strong Brazilian player. He played very well in Brazil. He’s going to need to work because he hasn’t played for a long time, so I want to give him time to prepare, to develop. There is no pressure, we know what he can do.
Are you counting on Djibril Sidibé this season?
Yes of course, he is a very experienced player, he was a world champion in 2018 with France. He has also had experience in the Premier League so he’s an important, experienced and aggressive player. It will help us a lot to have him with us to support our younger players in their development. He had a very good match against Metz, I was pleasantly surprised.
What about the situation of Benoît Badiashile?
We are very happy right now with the defense we have. Benoît has already scored twice; he’s our top scorer right now (smiles). He’s a 19-year-old international U21 player for France, so now we want to step up a gear with him, he’s going to have a lot of playing time this season. Clearly, we don’t want to sell him, we hope he is there for the whole season, I think that’s the best thing for him. Here he has his family, his club, his environment. It’s very difficult to leave when you’re a young player like him, you don’t speak the language, you don’t have your family next to you. If he continues at this level I’m sure he will have a great season with us.
Are you invested for the long term with AS Monaco?
I signed a three-year contract here, and I find it to be a very interesting project in which I am invested with Oleg Petrov and Paul Mitchell. We will try to bring AS Monaco back to the top, to the top of the table. In the near future we hope to compete in Europe again. We already have four points, we are on the right track, but this is just the beginning.