Paul Pogba, Kevin De Bruyne, Ngolo Kanté and Monaco teammate Cesc Fabregas are all reasons why Aurélien Tchouameni has developed into one of Ligue 1 Uber Eats' top talents, the France U21 midfielder has told The Ligue 1 Show.
After making an impression at Bordeaux alongside the likes of Jules Koundé and Zaydou Youssouf, Tchouameni joined Monaco in January 2020. Since, the 21-year-old has become a pillar of Niko Kovac's side, scoring twice and adding four assists in 33 impressive top-flight displays this term.
His performances in the principality have propelled him into his country's U21 squad, and it is largely down to Tchoumeni studying some of the top midfield talents in the game, cherry-picking their top attributes to augment his natural ability.
"People have always compared me to Pogba, because of our physique, and the way we played when we were young. To be one of the best you have to take inspiration from the best. I look at the way Pogba uses the ball, the way Kanté wins the ball, [Patrick] Vieira’s box to box style, the way Iniesta, Cesc and Xavi [Hernandez] use the ball. I love watching Kevin De Bruyne play," said Tchouameni, who has picked the brains of FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO winner Fabregas and another world champion teammate.
WATCH: Tchouameni scores against Marseille
"It's enriching for me to learn about his career, to ask him how he prepares, what it was like under different coaches, what they ask from him etc. I talk to Djibril Sibidé a lot as well because he's played at the highest level, he's a World Cup winner. I ask him about the midfielders he played with at the World Cup, Pogba, Kanté, to find out more about them.’
Tchouameni could have followed in Fabregas and Pogba's footsteps by opting to pursue the early stages of his career outside of his own country. Pogba left Le Havre to join Manchester United as a teenager while Fabregas swapped Barcelona for Arsenal as a youngster, but Tchouameni's path has been consciously carved out in France.
"I had opportunities to move abroad when I was younger, but I didn’t feel it was the right time. Monaco have always been a prestigious club. They’ve won a league title recently. For me, it was a challenge to go from Bordeaux to Monaco," explained Tchouameni, who came into a struggling side a year ago
"It’s always tricky when you change club. When I arrived, the results weren't great. I didn't play much but I used that period to learn and to settle in at Monaco, and I think it really helped me, because when this season started I knew exactly where I was, and I could get off on the right foot."
Following Niko Kovac's arrival at the Stade Louis II in the summer, Tchouameni certainly has flourished, even if it took a frank discussion with his father to take his game onto another level.
"He knows me so well, and he knew that by saying something like that he'd get a reaction from me. I wanted to show him he was wrong. We had that chat in January, he said those things, and I said 'No problem, we'll see about that in the second part of the season'," said Tchoumeni, whose central midfield partnership with Youssouf Fofana has underpinned Monaco's push for a top-three finish.
"We talked to each a lot at the start of the season, but we hardly need to anymore because we just know where the other one will be. We know our jobs perfectly, we know what the coach expects, so it's really fluid now."
He added: "We have a great group of lads, a good mix of youth and experienced, that's why it works so well and when I'm happy to go to training every morning, because I know it'll be nice."