He showed everyone that he is still the great striker we know. Author of a double in AS Monaco’s win in Montpellier last Friday (3-2), Wissam Ben Yedder left the Stade de la Mosson with a smile, and for good reason. He was also involved in the goal of his attacking partner, Kevin Volland, and the captain of the Red and White was the key man in the 11th win of the season for Niko Kovac‘s side. It was therefore with renewed confidence that the Monegasque number 9 spoke at a press conference, 48 hours after one of the big matches of the 21st Matchday in Ligue 1, against OM (9 PM, behind closed doors).
Hello Wissam. How did you experience this period without scoring, before your double in Montpellier?
I wasn’t particularly sorry not to score. It’s part of the life of a footballer and a striker. I know myself and I knew things would come back. Few goals from open play? I scored with a header in Montpellier. Certainly I had a bad run of 4-5 games, it happens in the career of a footballer. But during that time if the team is taking points, that’s the main thing. It’s true that it’s important for a forward to score for their own confidence, but again I knew things would come back. And also Kevin has done a really good job, so it’s a matter of teamwork as well.
Did he take some of the pressure off you with his performances?
No, the important thing was to make the team succeed and they are doing as much now. We’re on a good run of results and that’s what I’m taking away from the way we play.
Is the best yet to come for this young team?
We are taking the matches one after the other. The ideal would obviously be to keep this momentum going. In any case, we remain focused on ourselves, on the work that we have to do to stay at this level. We have a young but solid squad.
What has changed, was there a moment where things clicked?
What has changed is the mentality of the squad. We know we have a young team, and I think the young players have shown more and more what they can do on the pitch. With the more experienced players we try to give them maximum confidence and help them to play with a sense of freedom.
Tell us about your relationship with Kevin Volland. Are you now part of the best attacking duo of your career?
Kevin is a very good player, who has a very good reputation in the Bundesliga. He’s a very smart player. I got on well with Islam Slimani here last season as well, and also with Pablo Sarabia in Sevilla. I do not want to rank the partnerships in which I have been able to play. It’s not really important. It’s true that I get along very well with Kevin and things work on the pitch, that’s the main thing. As long as things are going well with him, and it allows the team to earn points, I’m happy. But I repeat, we get along very well together. We try to do as much on the pitch. And we give each other advice as well, even off the pitch.
Do you have a preference to name the duo that you form precisely? Vollander or Yedderland?
If I have to choose, Yedderland is okay (smile).
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) January 21, 2021
Is this the ideal time to face Marseille, if we bring our focus back to the pitch?
We see that they were having difficulties these days. But they’re a good team, who have played in the Champions League, so you have to be careful. I think it’s a 50-50 game with them. We will try to prepare for this match in the best possible way anyway. We know that Marseille is also going all in on this meeting. But we are playing at home and we will try to get a result to continue our good run of results.
What is your take on the breakout season of Sofiane Diop?
He is a very good player, who is still young. He has great potential. I hope for him that he continues like this and that he can still help the team as he does now. He has showed what he can do now. It is up to him to continue on this path.
And on the two midfielders — how do you see this duo?
Youssouf and Aurélien are very focused when they are on the pitch, they are complementary. Aurélien may be a little calmer in the way he expresses himself, but they are really two good players. These are central midfielders that drive play at the heart of the game, and who are very important to us. If the manager says so, I hope for them that they will score more goals in the future. But already they are essential for us in the work they do in midfield.
A reaction after a boost for your player card on FIFA?
(Smile). It was a nice bit of recognition, as there have been a lot of challenges this season already. It’s always fun to see this, because when you’re young you like to play video games. So it’s true that it’s nice to have your card improved on FIFA. We will try to continue like this.
🎙️ Comment as-tu réagi à ton boost sur ta carte #FUT21 ?
— AS Monaco Esports (@ASMonacoEsports) January 21, 2021
More seriously, has it been difficult for you to recover from Covid-19?
It happened with the French team, after the game against Finland. It’s true that it took hard work to come back. It was a difficult time for me. It is a complicated situation that we are all living in today. The first two weeks were not easy for me. But in these cases you have to have patience. Today that period is behind me and I want to focus on the present.
The Euros are bound to be in the back of your mind. It would be sad to play them without fans, right?
My main objective is to be focused on my club, on the results of AS Monaco. That’s what matters most to me, winning games. Then we will see for France. But obviously it would be great to play the Euros. Without fans? It is true that it would be a shame, we hope that it will work out in the future and that we can return to a normal life and having crowds in the stadiums.