AS Monaco have one of the youngest squads in Ligue 1 and amongst their budding star power is a gifted youngster in the form of Maghnes Akliouche. Already this season he boasts three goals in the books, most notably a brace he bagged in an electric encounter back in September when AS Monaco ran out 3-2 winners against Marseille. The exciting talent has exhibited in cameos so far this season acts of audacity, that take a deceptive amount of skill and nerve with relative ease.
Against Marseille his goals were unleashed with both feet, the first with his right when he sashayed into a vacuum he created inside the box and the other with his left, a thunderous first-time volley. The 21-year-old at the time of writing is level on Ligue 1 goals with one of his lavishly expensive teammates, striker Folarin Balogun, the 22-year-old American international was a marquee £35m summer signing from Premier League giants Arsenal after impressing on loan at Will Still’s Reims last season.
A Locksmith In The Hole
Akliouche hasn’t cost AS Monaco a penny in transfer outlay, he is an in-house solution to a position that gives scouts and talent spotters plenty of sleepless nights. A ten/hybrid attacker, that relishes unlocking defensive systems with his undetected late runs into space between the lines.
Teams that play with a low block and build concrete defensive structures rather than evoke attacking intent, are a nightmare to breakdown at times even for the most elite in the footballing world. That is when a locksmith like Akliouche is needed, he produces a nimbleness that circumvents those difficulties. His recent rise to prominence has not been completed unexpected after his dazzling displays for France U20s in the highly coveted stars-of-tomorrow 2022 Toulon Maurice Revello Tournament.
The youngster bewitched his international peers with his natural impeccable technique and exhibits of wise game intelligence far beyond his tender years. The attacking midfielder was voted the third-best player at the tournament, he was an integral part of a thrilling French side that ran out worthy winners.
Akliouche scored four goals and provided three assists, making him the most decisive player in the entire competition showing onlookers and his employers AS Monaco he was worthy of bookmarking. In many ways, Akliouche could not be in any better place than AS Monaco at this juncture of his fledgling career, back in 2017 the club conspired against the odds to win Ligue 1 powered mainly by the nitro injection produced by their homemade academy players.
Hütter The Well-Travelled Mentor
Today, AS Monaco are managed by the well-traveled Austrian Adi Hütter, the 53-year-old took over from the sacked Phillipe Clement in July 2023. Hütter is a wily technician, who has enjoyed a career punctuated with success across Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. The Austrian was twice named coach of the year during his tenure with Eintracht Frankfurt, the style of play Hütter implemented at Frankfurt and Red Bull Salzburg was infused with inspiring attacking football that is right up Akliouche’s street.
The tactician has worked with some stellar players in his time, most notably Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller, and Ante Rebic to name just a few. The way in which Hütter coaxed the talent and magic out of the brilliant Luka Jovic is an interesting case study when you consider his future tutelage of Akliouche. Playing behind a front two of Haller and Rebic, Jovic scored 17 goals in a position that Akliouche’s talents would be well-suited.
What makes Hütter’s achievement of twice being named coach of the year in Germany even more awe-inspiring, is the fact the players in the Bundesliga vote and determine which coach receives the accolade. Akliouche only made his Monaco debut back in 2021 but his attributes seem to be an ideal fit for Hütter’s tactical approach.
There is plenty of competition for places in the attacking midfield positions at AS Monaco given the club has Ben Seghir, Takumi Minamino, and Russian wizard Aleksandr Golovin in their ranks but if Akliouche can seize his opportunities he will be rewarded with a leap of faith by Hütter.
If You’re Good Enough You’re Old Enough
A fellow AS Monaco academy graduate Soungoutou Magassa, just 20 years old, has been unleashed by the new manager this season in the centre of defence. AS Monaco are employing high defensive pressure this season with no shortage of attacking verve and youthful abandon. Only PSG, littered with expensive talent, has scored more than Monaco in Ligue 1 action so far, on face value this looks like a perfect storm for the genius of Akliouche to develop into a cyclonic force.
The latest product from the prestigious La Diagonale Monaco academy that shaped Kylian Mbappé and Thierry Henry only mustered just over 400 minutes of Ligue 1 action last season, a feat he has already attained this campaign. Akliouche is emblematic of where AS Monaco finds themselves this season, full of promise and threatening to erupt like a volatile volcano located within the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Footballing genius is not beholden to the vicissitudes of bureaucracy or money and AS Monaco often do things the old-fashioned way, they produce many of their own talents to supplement their vast scouting efforts in the transfer market. The gifted Akliouche is a product of his nurturing environment, one where youth is trusted and given a chance to blossom.
When he is in the groove, he reminds you of the reasons why you fell in love with the game, he shifts momentum in an effortless way akin to players of yesteryear who placed skill above the dogmatism of athleticism that dominates the modern game. He will no doubt be at the forefront of France’s U21 Manager Thierry Henry’s thoughts as his rise to prominence at a Monaco side on an upward trajectory gathers pace.
By: Liam Scahill / @LiamScahill
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Neal Simpson / Allstar / Getty Images