Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco: Belgian gold in Ligue 1

AS Monaco president Dmitry Rybolovlev has invested a lot of money in the two years since his takeover of the club in an attempt to restore the 2004 Champions League finalists to their former glory. Last season, Monaco were promoted to Ligue 1 as champions, triggering a spending spree that brought the likes of Falcao, James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Jérémy Toulalan to Monté Carlo. Monaco were never going to settle for an uneventful return to the top division.

Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco is certainly not the most expensive attacking player of AS Monaco.

Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco is certainly not the most expensive attacking player of AS Monaco.

Last season, the young Belgian winger Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco was one of the most important players in the team. He played 27 matches in Ligue 2 and scored 6 goals, playing a crucial role in their successful promotion campaign. Nevertheless, nobody in Belgium expected him to feature quite so prominently this season while in France itself, most of the journalists and pundits believed in our Belgian prospect. Claudio Ranieri, head coach of AS Monaco, is also a big fan of YFC.

However, Claudio Ranieri showed faith in the Bruxellois after an impressive pre-season in which he shone despite the “frightening quality” around him as YFC put it when he appeared on La Tribune. Monaco are unbeaten in Ligue 1 this season and drew 1-1 with PSG at the weekend though Ferreira-Carrasco only received 4/10 in L’Equipe, not that he was by any means the only one.

Incidentally, Ferreira-Carrasco is not the only important Belgian at AS Monaco. Filips Dhondt, the former general manager of Zulte Waregem and Club Brugge,  is the club’s managing director. Thanks to him Club Brugge received €6m for Moroccan winger Nabil Dirar in 2012 although that wasn’t enough to assuage the concerns of then coach Christoph Daum.

In Belgium, Ferreira-Carrasco played for Diegem Sport, Germinal Beerschot and KRC Genk. In his short period at Genk, Carrasco lived together with none other than Kevin De Bruyne with a host family. After only one season Carrasco moved to Monaco at the age of sixteen. It didn’t take him long to work his way up from the B-squad to the A-squad. In June 2012 the attacking midfielder played his first game for the Monagesques.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco with the U21 Belgium squad (Picture: De Morgen)

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco with the U21 Belgium squad (Picture: De Morgen)

It’s too easy to compare Ferreira-Carrasco to Eden Hazard but if he’s half as successful as the Chelsea man was for Lille, he’ll go a long way to enjoying a successful career.  Every player is unique and should make his own name without being compared to other players. Sometimes it’s just easier to show you how talented a football player is. Ferreira-Carrasco is far from the finished article. He will have to improve his stats in Ligue 1 and be more decisive like he was in Ligue 2 for AS Monaco. With players as Falcao and Moutinho in your team that’s not an easy task for a 20-year-old winger.

Although he is yet to be capped at senior level, Wilmots admitted to receiving good reports. YFC’s coach at under-21 level, Johan Walem, has spoken of the mental strength the player showed to withstand the competition and keep his spot in the Monaco team. YFC was the outstanding player on the pitch when les Diablotins won 1-3 away to Italy. He was fast, he was incisive, he went on the outside and came infield, he threatened on both flanks, took a mean corner, set two goals up and scored one with a superb low finish into the bottom corner. He also impressed in the next qualifier against Northern Ireland and harbours hopes of making the World Cup squad in the event that Belgium reach Brazil. Should he continue to enjoy regular first team action, he’ll already have the upper hand on some of his more experienced “rivals” for a seat on the plane.

The young Belgian winger also features in French Football Weekly’s Le 50 –  a list of the 50 biggest talents in France, which we recommend you check out.  A month ago, L’Equipe’s man in Monaco Régis Testelin even called the attacking midfielder ASM’s best player at the point in time when he spoke to Sport/Voetbalmagazine:

“Before (his Ligue 1 debut against Bordeaux) he was unknown to most people. He’s Monaco’s best player at the moment. It is a surprise to me if he is not in the starting eleven. I’m rather surprised at the level he is performing at. On top of his intrisic qualities, he also has the advantage of being multi-lingual, which means he can communicate with everyone else in the squad. Moutinho and Rodriguez won’t force him out of the team – he is very much part of their first choice team at the start of the season.”

High praise indeed and Belgian eyes are very much upon him at a critical point in the nation’s football history.

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