Willem Geubbels can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Following two difficult seasons characterised by repeated injuries and setbacks, the AS Monaco player scored his first Ligue 1 goal during Sunday’s match against FC Nantes (2-1). At only 19, fans and professionals alike expect great things from the French player.
As the saying goes, time has its own way of revealing the truth. After two underperforming years, Willem Geubbels is finally living up to expectations. On paper, Geubbels has an impressive track record: Signed by AS Monaco at only 17, he made his Ligue 1 debut at 16 with Olympique Lyonnais against Dijon (2-1). However, due to his young age, the French club, which he joined at 9, never extracted his full potential. In particular, it is Geubbel’s technique and speed which are most impressive. Hungry for bigger chances, in 2018 the French player signs a 20 million contract with AS Monaco, despite rumours that big European clubs, including Manchester City and Bayern Munich, have their eyes on him.
“During these last two seasons I’ve felt every emotion under the sun”
However, when Geubbels arrives in Monaco, his career doesn’t exactly fast-track and the club’s reputation of turning athletes into stars never actualises. “During these last two seasons I’ve felt every emotion under the sun,” Geubbels admitted after the match against FC Nantes, during which the nineteen-year-old scored his first Ligue 1 goal. “I was injured several times and had to undergo a knee operation. Every time I was back on the field, I gave it my all, perhaps a little too much, because then I relapsed,” he said.
“Willem has a huge potential”
After only two appearances during the 18-19 season, Geubbels did not play a single match with AS Monaco in 2019-2020, despite a few Youth League games. However, the appointment of Niko Kovac as AS Monaco coach seems to have shaken things up. Geubbels played in all of three of this season’s games against Reims, Metz, and of course Nantes, culminating in a goal. “After two awful years, scoring the goal was incredible,” Geubbels said after the match. “But it’s not the end goal. I need to work harder and keep my performance improving. I feel like I’ve left the worst behind me but that the hardest is yet to come,” he said. Geubbels says he’s determined to score as much as possible this season “to help the club reach its objectives”. In any case, Guebbels can count on his coach’s support, who does not hide his admiration for the young player. “Willem has a huge potential. I’m very happy that he managed to score. He played a very good game, like in Metz, where he sacrificed himself for the team when we were down to ten players. This is just the beginning. A very beautiful career awaits him. In the meantime, he has to work hard to keep up a good performance on the pitch.” Hard work – hardly a difficult prize to pay for one’s success.
Will there be a place for Willem Geubbels this season?
The offensive side is already well filled this season with Wissam Ben Yedder, Stevan Jovetic, Gelson Martins, Henry Onyekuru, Pietro Pellegri and Kevin Volland, who recently arrived from Bayer Leverkusen. Willem Geubbels could have a role to play behind the duo Ben Yedder-Volland, or on the right side, where he should quickly compete with Gelson Martins. But this season, his main competitor to grab some playing time in attack will most certainly be Pellegri, who has just recovered from his injury and is determined to take to stay in the game. A great hope for Italian football, the former Genoa striker (19 years old) has had a similar fate to that of Geubbels, with numerous injuries that have delayed his progress. Having made an interesting entrance against Nantes, the Italian will be a serious contender for Geubbels. Imagine the two men playing together certain matches, notably in the French Cup… a very interesting hypothesis!