Monaco's Aurélien Tchouaméni has enjoyed a meteoric rise and is setting the example to the rest of France's emerging players.
Les Bleus have struggled in recent times, drawing five internationals in succession, but Tchouaméni was one of the few France players to emerge with credit from Saturday evening's 1-1 draw at Ukraine. Making his full debut, Tchouaméni backed up the favourable impression he'd left as a second-half substitute in the draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina three days earlier.
Deschamps: "An example"
France boss Didier Deschamps commented: "If I picked him, it's because I thought he had the potential to be there. He has confirmed that to be the case on his debut and then on his first start against Ukraine. There are quite a lot of new players. They should use Aurélien as an example and perform the way he did."
The 21-year-old midfielder has stepped seamlessly up from France Under-21s duty, building on a superb season at club level. Tchouaméni told TF1: "I felt comfortable against Ukraine, thanks to my team-mates and the coach. The blue shirt is obviously something different. It's a different world and not the same as club football. The whole nation is behind us and of course it makes me proud to wear the shirt."
Tchouaméni picked up a knock against Ukraine, though that didn't stop him being one of his side's most influential players before being replaced in the 83rd minute by Jordan Veretout. The central midfielder was awarded France's highest mark by daily sports newspaper L'Equipe, scoring a seven out of ten.
Having come through the Bordeaux ranks, Tchouaméni joined Monaco in January 2020. His game moved to another level in 2020-2021 under Niko Kovac with Tchouaméni becoming ever more influential both on the pitch and in terms of the squad dynamic.
France Under-21s coach Sylvain Ripoll told L'Equipe: "Defensively, he's capable of running for 90 minutes at very high intensity. He always puts his opponents under pressire. He's very good at reading the intentions of his opponents. He can play in a variety of ways but is monstrous when he has the game in front of him."
Ripoll: "A great shot on him"
1m85 tall, Tchouaméni is powerful and technically accomplished. Until Under-18s level he played as a forward or as a playmaker. Though Tchouaméni has only scored two Ligue 1 Uber Eats goals in his career, Ripoll expects the midfielder's attacking contribution to grow. Ripoll commented: "He has a great shot on him and has really improved that aspect of his game over the last two years. He has become much more ambitious in terms of his attacking play."
Having made the Ligue 1 team of the season in 2020-2021, played for France at the Under-21s EURO and then made his senior international bow, Tchouaméni's ascent shows no sign of stopping. With Deschamps seeking the right formula, he could become a major part of the France coach's thinking in the build up to the 2022 World Cup.