Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/CPS Images/Getty Images

Even the most rose-tinted Les Bleus supporters could have been forgiven for wondering how on earth a France side missing N’Golo Kante could disrupt Spain’s tika-taka drumbeat in Sunday’s Nations League final. 

But on just his third start for the national team, Aurelien Tchouameni proved that the seemingly irreplaceable Kante is replaceable after all. 

With Paul Pogba struggling to exert his usual influence on proceedings at the San Siro, his less-heralded midfield partner stepped up the plate, laying the foundations for France’s second international trophy in three years. 

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Only one player on the pitch (centre-half Jules Kounde) made more than Tchouameni’s four interceptions, according to WhoScored.

Time and again Tchouameni was there, breaking up Spanish attacks before initiating counter attacks. 

You know how the saying goes – 70 per cent of the earth is covered by water, the other 30 per cent is covered by Aurelien Tchouameni.

The Monaco general has often been compared to Pogba during his young career but, as France came from a goal down to become only the second winners of the Nations League, Tchouameni showed he’s as much a ball-winner as he is a ball-player, producing a complete central-midfield performance. 

“I first met Aurelien in 2015, when he was 15 years old,” reminisces agent Gregoire Akcelrod, in conversation with FC Inter News. 

“I was struck by a player who dominated the scene, one who made the difference and I thought: ‘Wow, (he’s) like Pogba.’ I didn’t have the slightest doubt he would become a top player thanks to his technical and physical characteristics.” 

Could Tchouameni become the new heartbeat at Liverpool or replace Kante at Chelsea?

Tchouameni only joined Monaco from Bordeaux in January 2020. 

But with Tuttosport claiming Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have joined Chelsea in the race for his much-sought signature, the 21-year-old could soon follow in the footsteps of Fabinho or – to use a less flattering comparison – Tiemoue Bakayoko. 

Photo by Tullio Puglia – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

If things had worked out differently, however, Tchouameni would already be plying his trade at one of Europe’s biggest clubs. 

“In December 2018, I met (Inter Milan director Piero) Ausilio,” Akcelrod explains, detailing what feels like a mere bump in the road in Tchouameni’s journey to the top.

“(Ausilio) explained to me he had known Tchouameni for a long time and wanted to put him under contract. The problem was at the time Inter had to submit to Financial Fair Play, so they couldn’t pay the fee. 

“I believe that, with only €3 million, the deal would have been sealed. 

“Moving from Bordeaux to Monaco was great for (Tchouameni), precisely because he started playing with great players and with a top coach (Niko Kovac). Now, I am sure he is ready for the next step, the one that will lead him to a world-class club.  

“Maybe it will be the Nerazzurri?” 

Photo by Tullio Puglia – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

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