Interviews

Soungoutou Magassa: 'I thought I'd get game time but not as much as I have had in these three months'

Soungoutou Magassa: 'I thought I'd get game time but not as much as I have had in these three months'

Interviews
Publish on 10/30 at 15:20 - L. ENTWISTLE

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Soungoutou Magassa is one of the protagonists to Monaco's strong start to the Ligue 1 Uber Eats season. The Frenchman has not only come through the academy and broken into Adi Hütter's starting XI, but also earned a first call-up to the France U21 side. We spoke to him before the Principality club's defeat to Lille.

Did you expect to play so much this season? 

Honestly, I thought I'd get game time but not as much as I have had in these three months. I'm lucky to have the opportunity to express myself every weekend and to show the coach what I'm capable of. I hope it will continue like that. 

Did you think that that game time would come at centre-back? 

No, not at all! (laughs) I wasn't expecting to play in this position. I was used to filling in at centre back for 10/15 minutes but never a full 90. The coach has played me here and I give it my all for him, for the team, for the club and for the staff.

Were there signs in pre-season that you'd play at CB? 

Against Leeds United, he brought me on as a centre-back for the last 20 minutes after Ruben Aguilar got injured. I made a good impression and then I played against Genoa for the full 90 as a centre-back and I have another good match. It's the same again against Arsenal and I've played there ever since. 

Would you still say that you are most comfortable as a centre-back? 

I like that position because you run more, you see more of the ball, but I try to bring as much as possible as a defender. I have a lot of fun in midfield and I like the position a lot. I played there when I came on against Rennes last season, a difficult match 10v11 and I played well in difficult circumstances. 

Did you think that you'd get more game time after that match after Rennes? Were you disappointed that this wasn't a launchpad for more minutes? 

After that match against Rennes, I thought that having had a good match, I anticipated that I'd get my chance. That didn't happen. My next match was six months later against Rodez in the Coupe de France.

It took time, I worked hard and I played with the Groupe Élite but I was disappointed during these six months where I wasn't playing in the first team. Those are things that you easily forget. I'm happy that I'm flourishing on the pitch now. 

How would you describe your style of play and how is that evolving? 

I think I'm a player that is good at playing the ball out either with long or short passes. I like playing forward, taking risks, and being aggressive in duels. I'm a player with good physical characteristics and who also reads the game well. 

We've seen these qualities in lots of big players who have come through at Monaco. We notably think about Aurélien Tchouaméni, about Benoît Badiashile and Axel Disasi. Do you think you have similar qualities to some of these players? 

Similarities? I'm not necessarily sure, but they are great players and I was inspired by them. When they were here, I tried to learn from them on a daily basis, to see how they worked, how they were in matches and I solicited advice from them. I tried to learn as much as possible from them and be inspired by them because they are great players that are currently doing great things. 

There are signs of Badiashile in your play in the way that you like to push into the midfielders out of possession… 

Benoît did great things at the club and he was also of course a player that played on the left of the defence. Even if I play on the left, I'm a right footer that can also play the ball out well, which I try to take inspiration from because it was really his strength. If I can be inspired by Benoît, as a defender, I'll be happy. 

There were changes over the summer, notably with the arrival of Adi Hütter. What is your relationship like with him?

He is a coach who has a lot of confidence in me, and I really feel that. On the pitch he speaks with me a lot and it's the same in training as well. Lots of that is on the mental aspects and he gives me a lot of advice on this, on how to keep focused until the end, and how to play with confidence. So he is a manager that gives me a lot of advice, a manager that is pushing me forward. I hope to repay his faith in every in which he gives me the confidence to play. 

Is it Hütter that has made the difference this summer? Has he changed something in the dressing room? 

He has a philosophy of football that corresponds really well with the players that are here. We have great players here and he has managed to put things in place. We have managed to adapt well because we are a team that likes to be attacking. We have great attacking players, we have great quality in our press, in our ability to win the ball back. We've managed to adapt to him and he has adapted to us as well. We're first in the table and I hope it remains like that for a long time.

Given Monaco's start to the Ligue 1 Uber Eats season, there is talk of the title. Is this realistic? 

It is still early. We're only a quarter of the way through the season and the road is still long. We need to keep working hard, keep being rigorous, remain consistent and focused and fight for each other in every minute of every match in and in every duel. Why not, if we keep doing that, reach our objective, which is to achieve European competition. We're not limiting ourselves. We need to keep winning matches and if everything goes well, I hope that we can reach our objective. 

Maghnes is now a player with whom you play at international level as well. How was the experience of your first callup to the France U21 side? 

Maghnes and Chrislain were already used to it having been called up during the previous international break. For me, it was my first time (in October). I didn't pile pressure on myself. I just played my football as I have played it at club level. It went well; we won both matches. Now it's up to me to do everything with my club to receive a callup next time as well. 

How was it also working with a legend of AS Monaco, but also a French footballing legend as well in Thierry Henry? 

I already met and spoke with him on many occasions whilst I was in the academy because he was very close with the young players when he coached here at Monaco. I remember I first met him when I was playing for the U17 side. To meet with him again with Les Bleuets, is something that I am really proud of. He was a great player and now a great coach too. He gave me good advice that I took on board and that I am trying to work into my game day-by-day.

Would you say that this is a new golden generation that is coming through in France currently? 

A golden generation? I don't know, but it's true that we have a group with a lot of quality. The most important thing currently is winning matches and then we'll see if we can win titles, you can then maybe speak about a golden generation, but it's too early to say that now. We have a great team with great players playing in the best teams in the best leagues. It is up to us to continue together, win matches and reach objectives. 

What are your personal objectives in terms of your career progression? Lots of players dream of playing in the Premier League in particular. Is this the same with you? 

I am already playing at a very big club in the form of Monaco, in a good league as well. I don't have a particular fixed objective. I just want to perform well and play in the biggest matches in the biggest competitions, win the biggest trophies. I don't really limit myself and I don't set myself any specific objectives. 

You say that you're not limiting yourself. You seem to have the self-confidence to reach the highest level of the game… 

I think if I continue to work, if I stay disciplined, applied and I listen to advice and remain humble, there is no reason why I can't reach the highest level. I think everything comes with work. You also need to avoid injuries and have good people around you, which I do. If you have all that, there is no reason not to be a great player and play in the biggest matches. 

 

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