Youssouf Fofana

Youssouf Fofana: "The coach wants to see me play everywhere"

Youssouf Fofana: "The coach wants to see me play everywhere"

Publish on 02/17 at 22:00 - E. RAZO


Youssouf Fofana continues to flourish with AS Monaco, where he has become one of the key players in Ligue 1. The 25-year-old recently chatted with us about a noticeable aspect of his gameplay that's stood out under Adi Hütter: his offensive role.

How do you feel playing in Adi Hütter's system?

"I've discovered a new philosophy. I like this style of play, focusing entirely on the attack with a transitional game. I love the spaces. It suits my qualities. And this season, things have worked out well with the new coach and the new players. The coach showed us earlier in the season a statistic indicating that 11 different players had scored (now it’s 12 players). This shows that everyone is dangerous and can be decisive."

As one of Monaco's goal scorers this season, can you tell us about your goal against Rennes?

"On this goal, I played a bit of a decoy on Philip Köhn's clearance because I know Krépin Diatta is good in the air. So, I tried to anticipate the deflection. Unfortunately, he missed me, but he touched [Folarin] Balogun, and I found myself in a position that was not natural for me. I hesitated until the last moment. I was anticipating a Rennes defender to step out and challenge me for the ball, but when nobody did, I noticed a slight gap and took the opportunity to carefully place the ball."

In the images, you almost seem surprised that no one is stepping up to you.

"A bit because that's what I was expecting. On my run, I don't go in with determination. My main goal was to bypass the two defenders. When I saw the opportunity open up inside the box, it seemed like a shot anyone would take. So, I went for it and finally seized my chance."

As a defensive player, you seem to engage quite a bit in offensive plays, either through taking shots or making crucial passes. Is this a specific aspect of your game that you concentrate on?

"It's something I find comes naturally to me, but it really depends on the coaches because I'm a versatile player. So, I adjust based on the instructions provided by the coaching staff. In the past, while I've always had the freedom to push forward offensively, my primary focus was on defensive duties. However, under coach Hütter, things have changed: he emphasizes my involvement in offensive plays. He wants me to be present everywhere, contributing to finishing and initiating plays at times. This role fits me quite nicely."

So, how does this affect your position within the French national team?

"Well, with the national team, my role is quite different compared to AS Monaco. It's all about recovery for me there. I'm the one who puts in the hard work, you know (laughs). I patiently wait for my chance and make the most of my playing time. But I must admit, after spending several months playing in an offensive role at the club, transitioning to an offensive position with the national team feels more natural to me."

Which do you like better: scoring, assisting, or making a crucial save on your goal line?

"I prefer making an assist, especially a beautiful one! You know, the kind where the scorer just needs to tap the ball into the net, not where they have to work hard for it. Like [Aleksandr] Golovin did at Lorient and [Myron] Buadu against Angers last season. I could give you a couple more examples, but unfortunately, they didn't convert them, so I don't count those."

Does your offensive role depend on the teammates that are around you?

"Absolutely. It's bound to change depending on who I'm on the field with. For instance, playing alongside Minamino is different from playing with Akliouche. Take Golovin, for example; he thrives with plenty of space. So, when I push forward, I position myself on the opposite side to provide him with an additional option. I understand my role isn't solely about offense, so I adjust to support our playmaker and forwards accordingly. If our striker retreats, I push up, and if they need room to operate, I create space by moving around."

How did you become a team leader?

"Well, despite being relatively young [25 years old], I've had quite a bit of experience playing matches. That naturally puts me in a leadership role within the team. Plus, being French, I have a deep understanding of the country and the league, giving me an edge over others. The new players often look to me for guidance, especially since I have significant experience in Ligue 1. And considering the club's tendency to recruit young talents, after four years, I suddenly find myself among the more experienced players."

Do you prefer a cautious "1-0 assurance" approach or the more dynamic "total football 4-3" style?

"Definitely total football for me! Winning 1-0 can be dull. I had the most enjoyable experiences this season during matches like the thrilling 3-3 draw in Nantes. It was such a blast! Then, there was the first game against Clermont (a 4-2 victory). It wasn't perfect, but I loved seeing the team push forward and strive for victory. The 3-0 win against Lens and the 3-2 victory against OM were also unforgettable moments."

Which team do you dislike losing to the most?

"Obviously, against Nice because it's a bit frustrating... I mean, I really dislike losing in general, but what bothers me even more is how it happens. If our team gives it their all during the match and tries to perform well, I can accept the outcome. However, if we don't show any effort – whether it's against Nice or any other team – that's just not acceptable to me."


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