Fast, strong, technical, and capable of running up and down the flank all game long, Caio Henrique has made the Monaco left-back position his own. Interview…
After a difficult to start to life in the principality, the 23-year-old Brazilian – who was signed from Atletico Madrid last August – is going from strength to strength. Caio Henrique told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS: "The first couple of months were very difficult. When I arrived, I hadn’t played football for some time. I’d just had Covid as well. So I had to wait a bit, and bide my time before I could find my feet and break into the team. Slowly but surely, I’ve managed to settle into the team, and I’ve got accustomed to the French league, which is very different to what I was used to.
"I think the Brazilian and Spanish leagues are slightly more technical, but Ligue 1 is very physical and intense. That surprised me a bit at the start. As defenders, you have to remain compact as a back-four, and you have to be switched on all the time, because the opponents are always looking for space. The players are very fast and very good!"
Champions in 2017, Monaco look to be on their way back up. Caio is dreaming of emulating the side that roared to the title four years ago with the likes of Radamel Falcao, Kylian Mbappé, and his compatriot Fabinho."We watched Fabinho when he played here a few seasons ago. He was part of a brilliant Monaco team that reached the Champions League semi-final, and won the title here in France. It was a big achievement and, of course, I want to follow his example."
Fabinho was a right-back when he arrived at Monaco, but Leonardo Jardim repositioned him in central midfield. Caio has made the opposite transition, starting out as a midfielder, before moving to left-back.
"Important to be able to play two positions"
"I feel it’s important to be able to play in two positions: full back and midfield. I prefer attacking, but this season is also a learning process for me. Us Brazilians, we’re used to attacking, we love to go forward. That’s why this first season at Monaco is so important for me, because I’m learning a lot about the defensive side. That said, I try to attack when I can. It’s important for me to make assists because they give you visibility and, of course, they help the team."
Great assist for Volland v Nantes
Caio’s raids up the left are now a feature of Monaco’s play. The former Santos man has contributed five assists so far – including one sumptuous pass, against Nantes: "I picked up possession and carried the ball forward a little. I had a quick look up and saw Kevin Volland going in behind the centre-back. I realised I couldn’t find him with a low pass, the only option was to go over the top. It was the kind of pass you do in Futsal. I played a lot of Futsal as a boy. In Brazil, we all start out like that. So I had think quickly and I had to improvise."
Thanks in no small part to their Brazilian, Monaco have emerged as title contenders, a status they truly established on February 21 by completing a superb double over PSG: "When you defeat a team as good as PSG, it gives you confidence that you carry with you for the rest of the season. For us players, the aim is to get Monaco back into Europe. Of course, if we can qualify for the Champions League that would be even better. But the main thing is to make sure we are in a European competition."