Juventus: Is Aurelien Tchouameni a good alternative to Manuel Locatelli?

ANNECY, FRANCE - MAY 13: Aurelien Tchouameni of AS Monaco passes the ball during the French Cup match between Rumilly and Monaco at Parc Des Sports on May 13, 2021 in Annecy, France. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
ANNECY, FRANCE - MAY 13: Aurelien Tchouameni of AS Monaco passes the ball during the French Cup match between Rumilly and Monaco at Parc Des Sports on May 13, 2021 in Annecy, France. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Amid a pandemic, the world is a fiasco, as should be the transfer market around which the footballing realm evolves. But when you see a certain group of clubs flexing their financial muscle as they wish, the contrast between the real world and the footballing realm becomes apparent.

The idea of elitism is nothing new in club football. Elites have more power and money, so they can do whatever they want — it makes sense in footballing terms. Juventus have been a part of this elite group of clubs for years. The mostly-watched Italian club across the globe, Juventus, have done miracles in the transfer market, but not anymore.

When the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea have let the cash flow as if normalcy persists, Juventus have been struck down by the wrath of Nature — the COVID-19 pandemic has surely fallen as a curse on the accounts of the Piedmontese club. The magnitude of this pandemic-driven blow has been so severe and cruel that a club of Juve’s sort is considering not once or twice but multiple times before signing their top transfer target, who is, of course, Manuel Locatelli. Why is Locatelli so important to Juventus? We have already prepared an answer.

To summarise, Juventus need a midfielder who could keep all the pieces together and make the side function in a way a puppet master orchestrates its puppets. It’s believed that Locatelli is the missing piece in Juve’s midfield. But what if the club fails to get the deal over the line this summer? Indeed, there will be another summer. But surely, there needs to be a short-gap solution, no?

Juventus have already found a Locatelli alternative…

It has been reported quite extensively in the Italian and French media that the Bianconeri are interested in AS Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni.

Tuttosport (via Claciomercato) has labelled him as Juventus’ alternative target for Manuel Locatelli. On the other hand, a reputed Italian journalist in Gianluca Di Marzio has spiced up the matter by adding that the club hierarchy is truly intrigued by the abilities of the 21-year-old.

Keeping the rumour in mind, we are obliged to scrutinise his traits. Is he good enough to be a Manuel Locatelli alternative? Is he good enough to solve the dilemmas found in the current midfield of the Juventus football club? Is he, at the age of 21, good enough to match the ambitions of a club of Juve’s ilk? We have an explanation.

Manuel Locatelli, Sassuolo (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)
Manuel Locatelli, Sassuolo (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images) /

Aurélien Tchouaméni — is he good enough?

Before jumping into the individual traits of the midfielder, we should know that this is his fifth campaign in the top tier of the French footballing pyramid. At the age of 21, this is a remarkable accomplishment. Previously with Bordeaux — one of the famous clubs in France – Tchouaméni joined AS Monaco in 2020 intending to attain more playing time for the senior side.

Well, by the look of things, he got what he deserved. He started 36 games (as per FBref.com) last season for Monaco and ended up completing his breakthrough campaign in Ligue 1. He is now touted to be one of the most promising prospects in France. Is that so? We need to gauge the ceilings here.

That said, there would be no better way to judge whether he is good enough to be Locatelli’s alternative or a kind of player that Juventus have yearned for over the last two years or so than comparing his numbers to those of Locatelli. Yes, it isn’t fair, since both players play in different leagues, at different clubs, for different managers, and under different systems. But it remains the only way.

We will be using the stats from FBref.com to perform the comparison. The website has a “Scouting Report” graph where a player gets compared to his positional peers in “Men’s Big 5 Leagues and European Competition”.

What do the numbers address?

The traditional proverb is that a midfielder is a bridge that connects a team’s attack to its defence. Midfielders are regarded as the most integral part that constitutes team balance. Without a solid midfield, a team never grows successful. History has its evidence.

Let us then start by comparing their attacking attributes. Tchouaméni, playing 3,153 minutes in Ligue 1 last season, accumulated a non-penalty expected goals [npxG] of 0.13 from 1.60 shots per 90 minutes, whereas Locatteli, playing 2883 minutes in Serie A last season, only came up with an xG of 0.08 from 1.28 shots per 90 minutes. This denotes that Tchouaméni could’ve had 13 goals to his name had he played 100 games and Locatelli could’ve garnered eight goals had he played 100 games. Plus, the number of shots showcase that Tchouaméni was more ferocious in front of the goal than the Italian.

Next comes the build-up. In terms of expected assists [xA], Tchouaméni recorded 0.07 and Locatelli 0.11, meaning Tchouaméni could’ve produced seven assists had he played 100 games last season, while Locatelli could’ve registered 11, which would have been better than the numbers of Tchouaméni in the same respect.

In terms of shot-creating actions, Locatelli was much more superior with his score of 2.68 per 90, which is less than Tchouaméni’s 1.63. When it comes to passing traits, Locatteli bested the individual two years younger than the Italian in each aspect barring one — dribbles completed. Operating from the deep midfield, the recent Euro champion completed 0.75 dribbles per 90, which couldn’t surpass Tchouaméni’s 0.94.

In defensive terms, Tchouaméni looks stronger than his Italian counterpart. Last season, Tchouaméni applied pressure 19 times to Locatelli’s 14 per 90 minutes, meaning Tchouaméni remained more adamant about putting pressure on his opponents by closing them down. The young Frenchman dominates the contest in tackling, making interceptions and winning aerial battles as well, with Locatelli being clear of Tchouaméni in making blocks and clearing dangerous balls.

What is the verdict?

As you can see from the numbers, both players have different strengths in different parts of the game. While Locatelli is more of a skilful passer of the ball, Tchouaméni can be defined as a ‘destroyer’ who likes to put pressure, commit tackles and regain possession. These numbers only suggest that Tchouaméni is not a so-called regista but a mezzala, a midfielder of Sergej Milinković-Savić’s sort.

Juventus could sign Tchouaméni. But he won’t be an astute alternative to Locatelli. Locatelli brings calmness to a team’s midfield. On the contrary, Tchouaméni means chaos, rigid tackles flying here and there. The player with Cameroonian descent has every aspect a box-to-box midfield should possess.

Assessing Aaron Ramsey as a 'regista'. dark. Next

Aaron Ramsey, 30, would leave Juventus sooner or later. If Juventus were to sign Tchouaméni, they should do so by perceiving him as a replacement for the Welshman not an alternative to their chief transfer target, Manuel Locatelli.