Wanting another physically imposing and athletic option in midfield to supplement his technical proficient players, AS Monaco’s shrewd acquisition of Florentino Luis addresses this need.
Joining on an initial loan deal, the hugely promising youngster, who was courted by the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Leeds United, Southampton and Fulham before signing for Monaco, adds some vital depth, quality and steel to their midfield ranks.
“Luis corresponds in every respect to the player profile we were looking for to bring more dynamic competition to midfield. His physical attributes and his aggressiveness in duels will be additional assets that we are glad to put at the disposal of Niko’s squad,” asserted Monaco sporting director, Paul Mitchell.
With Monaco already boasting some classy operators in midfield like Cesc Fabregas, Aleksandr Golovin, Sofiane Diop, Aurelien Tchouameni and Youssouf Fofana, Luis will provide additional competition for places and be a valuable, more defensively geared option, which will come in handy in certain situations.
After making just 18 appearances in all competitions at Benfica last term, he wanted a fresh challenge to test himself at a higher level. “I am delighted to have joined AS Monaco and to have my first experience abroad,” Luis explained upon his arrival.
“This new step represents for me a great opportunity to discover a new football horizon in one of the top five major leagues, but also and above all to continue my progress at a club with high ambition and high standards.”
Set to be a huge asset on the defensive end, Kovac will enjoy having a player with his characteristics at his disposal. Intense and forceful when pressing and applying his challenges, he relishes confrontations and attacks the ball or his man hard when he decides to go in.
To begin with his pressing, and he usually exercises fine judgement and authority when he decides to step out to harry his adversaries. Quick to respond to triggers such as his man dropping with their back to goal, if a pass is poorly struck or if the ball goes towards the near touchline, Luis makes his move with conviction.
It’s also important to note how he might stand a few yards off his man to give the perception they’re free before then pouncing once the pass is hit so he can arrive to either intercept or force a turnover with his touchtight pressure. Moreover, by looking to use his cover shadow when jumping out has seen him blocking pass lanes behind him by smartly angling his pressing.
When not engaging in pressing actions, the Portuguese starlet’s shown good discipline and positional awareness when retreating into a mid or low block. In these instances, he’s done a largely sound job of closing off lanes into attackers, keeping his spacing with his colleagues, shifting across to the ball near side, shielding his backline and picking up runners in his designated area of operation when need be.
Displaying admirable concentration, the 21-year also picks his spots when to step out to press, drop back to support his backline and uses his recovery speed to help in transition. Covering the ground with his massive strides, this serves him well in all phases of the game to assist his colleagues. His long legs notably benefit him when he applies interventions too, with him able to reach out and make himself as wide as possible in 1v1s.
By being on his toes in a powerful crouched posture, this means he can explosively respond to undertake his actions whatever they may be.
Luis’ tenacity in ground duels transfer into aerial duels, where he uses his languid 184 cm frame and springy leap to launch himself into battles. Even though he’s more proficient in ground duels, he manfully competes and holds his own in this aspect.
Although there’s plenty of room for refinement and fine tuning in his game, which the meticulous Kovac will help him with, there’s so much upside already attached to his stopping efforts.
Turning the focus to his offensive exploits, and the central midfielder contributes solidly in this phase too. A competent passer whose role typically consists of him moving the ball sharply into the fullbacks, fellow midfielders or attackers. Calm and accurate in his distribution, he’s more of a connector and constructor in possession, as he switches the angle of attacks nicely and gets the ball into his team’s more dangerous outlets.
Not one to persistently try and force penetrative vertical passes too often, he can still, however, hit them if an opportunity surfaces. This has seen him strike tidy through balls, lovely line breaking passes and combine sharply in confined spaces.
Composed with the ball at his feet, his dribbling sees him maneuver away from danger using his neat first touch and ball control. By scanning and subsequently adjusting his body prior to receiving, this sees him protect the ball and spin away from the incoming pressure.
To round things out, his movement has been key in helping him find space to impact proceedings. Whether dropping deep in between the central defenders or forming a box shape, this has ensured he can help generate overloads to progress the ball beyond the first line. Meanwhile, his nous further up the field has meant he can pin and draw opponents out of shape to open passing lanes into a free man. How he works hard to be an outlet to support wide attacks has been positive too, for he offers a viable option in these cases when a teammate is hemmed against the touchline.
By the numbers last season, his 5.53 interceptions per game, 9.5 ball recoveries pg, 0.20 shot assists pg, 0.54 fouls suffered pg, 48.64 passes completed pg at 91.9% and 4.95 completed passes into the final third at 85.6% illustrates his promise.
While he’s not the finished article yet, he’s clearly already at a level where he’s ready to come in and challenge for a place in Monaco’s ultra competitive midfield ranks. Working alongside so many stars and under Kovac should vitally help him take his game to the next level to stake his claim for a starting berth.
A tremendous talent and another smart piece of recruitment by Monaco, a player of Luis’ skill set certainly reinforces the Monegasques options in the heart of the pitch, which is precisely what they wanted.