For the past few years, there have been clubs across Europe that have always managed to bounce back after losing key players. Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Dortmund come to mind immediately, but the one club who have rebuilt time and time again not only with smart signings but with youth academy talents has been AS Monaco, the current reigning champions of
Ligue 1. Despite losing players like Bernardo Silva, Kylian Mbappé, Benjamin Mendy and Tiémoué Bakayoko, the club are still second in Ligue 1, in spite of PSG’s dominance so far. Smart transfer business and trust in youth players have kept Monaco competitive, and whilst everyone points towards signings such as Keita Balde and Youri Tielemans as well as younger
signings like Thomas Lemar and Fabinho as the keys to their success, there’s one player that has been at the club from a very young age who is on the verge of becoming the starting right back at the club.
Almamy Touré has been with Monaco since 2011, since he was a teenager, and his promise has not gone unnoticed by fans, pundits and the Monaco coaches alike. But what makes the young full back such a special talent? Why has he been flying under the radar by casual fans of European football for so long?
Touré hails from the capital city of Mali, Bamako, a city that has a population of over 1 million and is also home to former Real Madrid and Monaco midfielder Mahamdou Diarra, St. Étienne legend Salif Traoré and Euro 1988 winner Jean Tigana. Safe to say, the city is somewhat blessed when it comes to their footballers.
Touré officially became part of the youth academy of Monaco when he was just 15 years old, a move that couldn’t have been easy for someone of such a young age, but with Mali having similar cultures and language as France, one could argue that the transition could have been quite straight forward for the full back.
It became quite clear early on in Touré’s career that he was a very capable attacking full back but also had a good defensive mindset which meant that he could go forward often whilst knowing that he couldn’t abandon his defensive duties. Even at such a young age, he showed great awareness and worked hard to find a good balance to his game.
The Malian made his full Monaco debut in their surprising 3-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates in February 2015 at the age of 19, so no pressure on the young lad, just an easy game to get him used to first team football, right? Despite the baptism of fire, Touré held his own on his debut and when he went forward at pace, he had the Arsenal wide players chasing shadows and he caught the eye of many that evening.
That being said, he largely played as an understudy for the second half of that season which is understandable. He was still a raw player who was learning the tricks of first team football; it was only natural for Leonardo Jardim to take care of him and not burn the youngest out. It was after this season where Touré’s development went on an upward rise, playing as an understudy to newly-arrived Lille fullback Djibril Sidibé, from whom he would learn a fair amount from in terms of attacking. Once Sidibé arrived, Touré’s chances in the first team were dashed somewhat, but the Malian was a great deputy in Ligue 1 games following intense Champions League clashes, even playing in the quarter final victory over Borussia Dortmund.
At this point, it was clear to see the type of player that Touré had become. He was quick, powerful on the run and liked to join in with the exciting Monaco attack, but he never forgot about his defensive duties and showed that his discipline was what made his a solid player to have on your bench.
A stereotype that is often (wrongly) pedaled is that African players that they lack the brains to be key players in defensive positions, but what Touré has is a very good defensive brain, especially for someone of his age. It’s easy in the modern game to be a full back who focuses on attacking only, but Touré has got a good mix of defence and attack going on.
His strength makes him incredibly tough to knock off the ball, both defensively and when he’s galloping forward on the attack, and his positioning means he’s either finding good areas to exploit from attacking set pieces and also that he rarely gets caught out defensively, always trying to stay one step ahead of his rival.
The 21-year-old has a bright future ahead of him, slowly becoming one of the most exciting youngsters in the new-look Monaco side but as for right now he looks set to be another star in the making. Maybe he’s not quite in the same mould as Benjamin Mendy or even Dijbril Sidibé, because personally I feel he’s somewhat of a mix between the two. Touré has the attacking
capabilities of Sidibé but has the pure power and unstoppability of Mendy, which on paper makes him one incredible prospect!
Almamy Touré has come a long way from his full debut in North London against Arsenal, and has developed into a special young talent, and here’s hoping that he continues his development at the perfect club for his development-AS Monaco.
By: Tom Scholes/@TomScholes316