L1: Golovin, X factor or end-of-season flop with Monaco?

Sunday (3:00 p.m.) in Metz, Monaco, current 7th in L1 four points behind Strasbourg, the ultimate potential European, and above all eight lengths from Rennes, virtual qualified for the preliminary round of the Champions League, plays the first of nine matches which must enable him to hang on to Europe. Philippe Clement wants to capitalize on the last and significant victory against Paris SG (3-0, March 20) and on « good internal dynamics« . He is also counting on the resurrection of a player who is as intermittent as he is talented: Aleksandr Golovin.

The Russian could be the X factor for this end of the season. « He has the qualities to be!“, assures Clement. However, for the moment, Golovin, two goals and two assists in 845 minutes of L1 (8 tenures and 10 appearances), looks more like a flop than a decisive element. Transferred from CSKA Moscow for 30 million euros at the end of a 2018 Russian World Cup full of promise, he has not since capsized anyone in the Principality. However, like his predecessors, Clement insists: « He has the qualities to be a ‘top player’. But it needs a better engine« .

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« Engine and Body »

To support his statements, the technician points out that « in the last sixteen months, ‘Golo’ has only played four matches in full“Since his arrival, the Russian has had multiple injuries. Each improvement is followed by a period of absence, sometimes long, like this winter.

Holder against PSG for the first time since his half-time in the 32nd final of the Coupe de France on December 19 against Red Star (2-0), Golovin has gradually returned to competition since the five minutes played in Marseille ( 1-0), March 6. « He’s getting better and better, and really good in training« , judge Clement, who continues: « He is also working to come back stronger physically. We gotta lay a foundation for him. »

With many of his teammates, before and after collective training, he takes preventive athletic sessions as well as specific sessions to improve power and coordination. « We are developing the engine but it necessarily takes timesays Clement again. Especially since the bodywork, i.e. muscles and joints, must also be consolidated. »

Avoid social networks

But any Formula 1 is nothing if it is not driven with serenity. However, since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Golovin, 45 selections with the « Sbornaïa » of which he even wore the captain’s armband and which will not compete in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is living through difficult times. « We talk about it with him and with the other players« , supports Clement. At the end of February, Gelson Martins expressed the complexity of the situation for his teammate and friend. « ‘Golo’ is very sad about what is happeningexplained the Portuguese. The situation is difficult. »

Aleksey Mirancuk (15) and Aleksandr Golovin (17) with Russia shirt

Credit: Getty Images

At the same time, Nice coach Christophe Galtier summed up a dominant thought in the microcosm of French professional football. « As much as we must give our support to Ukrainians and particularly to football players and coaches, we cannot blame anyone of Russian nationality“, he indicated.

Since then, the situation in Ukraine has gotten even worse. The silence of Golovin, a star in Russia as in all of Eastern Europe, serves as a pretext for all kinds of excesses, especially on social networks. « Many opinions circulate on these networksconcludes Clement. Some send messages and, at times, it’s really not pleasant. But he has to manage to avoid all that to do good things on the ground!« 

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