21 Midfielder AS Monaco Belgium
2014 has been…
A year of two halves for one of French football’s leading livewires. After a 2013/14 season that brought just 18 appearances in a star-studded AS Monaco side, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco has regained his status as a regular starter since the summer. In 2012/13 he was a frequent contributor to the Ligue 2 champions but found himself out of luck, form and fitness for parts of the last campaign.
But the young Belgian winger has been perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Monaco’s spending having been dialled back in the summer of 2014. When his team were promoted they spent heavily to bring in Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho, effectively demoting him to the second string. Now that Rodriguez in particular has moved on, he’s getting more playing time than ever and Monaco are reaping the rewards.
Ferreira Carrasco joined Monaco from Genk’s academy at the age of 16 and has no delusions about the distractions threatened by Monte Carlo. “Monaco is a city full of vices,” he said in a magazine interview in 2013. “I am here only for the football.” He’s moved some childhood friends to the principality and they keep him company as well, he says, as keeping his feet on the ground.
There, they are gradually acquiring weapons-grade lethality. Ferreira Carrasco is a lightning-fast, aggressive and skilful dribbler on either flank. He loves to get at defenders, taking risk after risk – and often losing the ball in situations one could define as high risk and high reward, which, frankly, we sodding adore – and giving his opponents a fright practically every time he gets to open up and have a go.
He’s got fantastic footwork and, despite his rangy slightness of frame, enough upper body strength at high speed to make him near impossible to knock off the ball with physicality alone. His first touch is nerveless and he would appear to fear nothing at all within the boundaries of a football pitch. That includes the referee, whom Ferreira Carrasco doesn’t mind getting stuck into verbally if the situation calls for it.
As if breakneck pace and a tendency to make things happen weren’t exciting enough, Ferreira Carrasco is a set piece specialist too. His free kicks, shots or otherwise, are a real boon for Leonardo Jardim’s side. His corners, very often dangerous, are viciously whipped in at speed. Of course they are.
The best way to summarise Ferreira Carrasco’s game is this: he’s one of those wingers with one of those haircuts. When he comes to fulfil his promise he’ll need to have three crucial parts of his game. First, an ability to run at defenders and beat them. Check. Second, a willingness to work hard defensively, track back and support the midfield and defence. Check. Finally, end product. Getting there.
Ferreira Carrasco’s final ball, crosses especially, are already better this season than last, but there’s work to do. His finishing isn’t always up to scratch but he frequently gets himself into goalscoring positions, especially when attacking the back post to meet crosses from the other side. His decisions, by now mostly good, will need to improve too, but not at the expense of his charming love of a risk.
But all of this falls under the old, battered, inside-out, windswept umbrella of consistency. At 20 years of age that shouldn’t be too much of a concern for a player developing the ability to win matches on his own.
Ferreira Carrasco is neither a stranger to nor a fearer of competition. When Monaco splashed out in 2013 he simply kept his head down and said that any footballer worth a damn would relish playing in such a thrilling side and that if he didn’t fancy himself to overcome the obstacles in his way then he wouldn’t be much of a professional.
It’s just as well, because as a young Belgian winger there’s no doubt that he faces extraordinary competition for places on the international stage. He’s played for Belgium from the Under-15s right through to the Under-21s, where he was a regular between his 2013 debut and his call-up for the senior side’s September and October internationals this year.
Though Ferreira Carrasco wasn’t used in any of the three matches for which he was available, Marc Wilmots’ show of faith is testament to his impressive start to 2014/15 and that first cap won’t take too long to arrive. Nailing down a spot, however, is going to take some doing.
He’s already part of the way to achieving that at club level this season. His challenges there is now to keep that place and to be part of a group charged with adequately replacing the players sold in the summer.
He extended his contract by four years in August, effectively warding off interest from the Serie A duo of Roma and Juventus. They won’t be the last to set their sights on a player whose 2014 has ended much more satisfactorily than it began.
"The second half of last season didn't match the blistering start. For all the pace and trickery that dazzles his end product lets him down." - Andrew Gibney
"Yannick Ferreira Carrasco has scored five goals and assisted six in 30 career Ligue 1 appearances for Monaco." - OptaJoe
C- More exciting than popping candy in your underpants
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