AS Monaco's Takumi Minamino on the pitch before facing Clermont Foot

Ligue 1 Meets: Takumi Minamino

Ligue 1 Meets: Takumi Minamino

Publish on 05/16 at 17:00 - E. DEVIN


AS Monaco's season, his progress compared to last season, Japanese players in the league, Kylian Mbappé and more… Here's our interview with Takumi Minamino.

As the season soon comes to an end, how do you view your performances?
The team had a good start to the season but then it was less than good, before managing to achieve the club's objective of qualifying for the Champions League. From a personal point of view, I am not completely satisfied. Sometimes I could have done better. I could have helped the team a little more. As an offensive player, I am one of those who must lead the team. And when I succeed in doing that, my confidence builds.

“I feel more confident”

Compared to last season, which was your first with AS Monaco, it worked for you from the start. How do you explain it?
Mainly because the game played by Adi Hütter fits my style perfectly. When I play, I understand perfectly what the coach wants to do. Compared to last season, that changes a lot of things. Last summer, I also did a lot of individual preparation before starting again, which allowed me to start the season very well.

Are there other factors that could have played a role?
Compared to other leagues, Ligue 1 Uber Eats is more physical, more dynamic. It’s a league with a lot of one-on-ones. When I arrived, it took me some time to adapt. But now, both in attack and defense, I feel things out better in one-on-one situations, I am better able to get a head start on my direct opponents. I know how to receive the ball to avoid getting into trouble. I can turn players more easily, which is one of my strong points, and position myself well in the area... Thanks to all of this, I feel more confident and it shows in my performances.

Is the AS Monaco training center another explanation for your performances this season?

Yes, the facilities are really top notch. We are at the best facility in Europe. And the physical trainers and the staff are super competent. They put together a personalized program for each player with weight training to do after training, exercises to improve agility, etc. Their approach is very advanced. Last season I worked hard to develop myself and thanks to all this effort, I am at the level I am at this season. It is to the physical trainers that I owe my regularity.

“Kylian Mbappé is really very strong”

How would you describe Ligue 1 Uber Eats if you had to present the league to Japanese fans?
It's difficult... It depends of course on the teams but I would tend to think that the league is particularly suitable for players who have very identifiable characteristics, like Junya Ito. Since there is a lot of one-on-one here, there is a lot of reliance on players winning their duels. Conversely, even if each team has its own style, if we face a team that seeks to soak up space, play on the counter and create chance, we gain a lot of confidence by saying to ourselves that we can do that in such a tough league.

Would you advise Japanese players to come and play in France?
Obviously. If we manage to have a lot of Japanese players in the five major championships, there will be even more competition in the national team. I think this is an absolute need for Japan. Players like Junya Ito, Keito Nakamura or me must perform, develop the reputation of Japanese players and thus allow a greater number of Japanese to come and play here. That would be a good thing!

Among the players you faced here, who impressed you the most?
Kylian Mbappé, no surprise! Last season, I played against the Messi-Neymar-Mbappé trio and when I saw Kylian, I said to myself: “He’s not kidding!” More seriously, he is really very strong. He gives you a head start, which normally gives you an advantage, but when he gets the ball and picks up speed... When we face PSG, we try to defend as a unit but he always finds a breach.

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