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Analysis: Why classy Caio Henrique’s so crucial for AS Monaco

Caio Henrique yet again illustrated what an integral player he is for AS Monaco by enjoying another excellent campaign for the Principality club.

Exceptional in possession and such a key driving force for Les Monegasques going forward, the tactically flexible Brazilian, who’s so competent operating in a range of roles, positions and systems, was a huge asset for the recently departed Philippe Clement to call upon throughout.

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Such a difference maker with his masterful distribution in the final third on his way to supplying nine league assists, the fifth highest among all players in Ligue 1 last season, there’s no doubting how crucial his silver service is for ASM.

Capable of creating high quality chances in an instant with his prowess from dead-balls and open play, the way he combines power, finesse, accuracy, whip, dip and swerve is always a joy to watch. Wrapping his wand of a left foot around the ball perfectly using his distinctive ball striking technique, this, in combination with his vision and reading of the play, ensured his teammates’ runs were frequently obliged.

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Brilliant delivery to find Badiashile
Masterful delivery to pinpoint Maripan to score

“Since I was little, I’ve been used to taking set-pieces,” explained the 25-year-old in a recent interview on Monaco’s official website. “It’s one of my specialties. I always try to do things right in training because I know that set-pieces are important and can decide the game.”

Moreover, his capacity to feed runners in behind with measured through balls, break the lines with incisive ground passes and engage in nifty combination play in tight amplifies his distribution prowess. Able to change direction and speed shrewdly, plus beat opponents with slick feints and shimmies, to gain separation, this area of his game is key to him gaining room to execute his actions.

Sublime crossed assist

The chance generating machine also flexes his muscles on the dribble, where his driving runs from deep heighten his impact.

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Resistant to pressure and using his body smartly to protect the ball or spin away from danger, Henrique does a fine job of maintaining possession when under duress, which is helped by his scanning to gain an awareness of his surroundings.

Timing and directing his movements effectively to boot, this allows him to occupy damaging positions within the attacking half, as he picks his moments coherently when to overlap, underlap after rotating with a colleague or attack the box with blindside runs into the area when the ball is on the opposite flank.

Wonderfully timed run in behind

Sharing a particularly superb partnership with Aleksandr Golovin, the dynamic duo were a constant thorn in the side of opponents due to their dovetailing that sees them seamlessly rotate, help form overloads to bypass foes and relentlessly make space for one another by dragging opponents about.

Smart underlap before firing in a crisp assist for Ben Yedder
Henrique ready to smartly burst in behind as Golovin pins two markers

Contributing strongly on the defensive end as well, the former Fluminense man is typically alert to danger so he can track runners, step out to apply pressure and jet across to support colleagues while also anticipating when to chime in with interventions.

Sharply reading the intentions of opponents and quick to react, it’s been positive how he holds his own in 1v1s from his crouched base posture so he can push off in a variety of directions.

Rangy, with underrated strength and handy in the air, his heading skills add to his worth, for his ability to pick up the ball’s flight, outmuscle his usually smaller opponents and time his leaps hold him in good stead to compete manfully.

By the numbers among players in who play in a similar position in Ligue 1 last season, the fact he ranked so highly in many vital metrics aptly depicts his class, for he came in first for assists (9), eighth for progressive passes per 90 (10.10), 14th for shot assists p90 (1.31), 17th for deep completions p90 (0.90) and 20th for average passes p90 (45.51).

Caio Henrique’s Pass graphics from Wyscout

Having made 45 appearances in all competitions for ASM, the durable, reliable and consistent dynamo certainly demonstrated his value to his team even though the crusade ended poorly with Monaco ultimately failing to qualify for Europe next term.

Improving all the time, especially on the defensive end, the only thing missing is for him to finally get properly rewarded at international level for Brazil by becoming a regular pick after being overlooked for far too long.

A star on the rise and reportedly attracting interest from heavy hitters such as Barcelona and Liverpool, this serves as a further testament to what an accomplished player he’s developed into. 

In the prime of his career and cementing his status as one of the elite operators in Ligue 1, it’s imperative ASM do everything in their power to keep the uniquely talented Henriqie, who can play in a range of stations in midfield and defence and who has a contract until 2027.

Whatever the future holds, it’s safe to say he can look back on the 2022/2023 crusade with immense satisfaction, for his accomplished body of work was nothing short of excellent on his path to becoming a truly world class player.