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Analysis: Why Golovin’s genius is so crucial for AS Monaco

Having enjoyed his best season so far in an AS Monaco shirt, it’s worth taking stock and shining a light on what a class act Aleksandr Golovin was in the 2022/2023 term.

In what was his fifth year with Les Monegasques, the silky skilled attacking midfielder was a key driving force for recently departed Philippe Clement’s men in a campaign where ASM ultimately finished sixth.

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Posting his best league scoring season and second best assisting crusade since joining the club in 2018, this underlined what a force to be reckoned with he was.

Creative, imaginative, capable of spotting openings many don’t see and a master at executing, it was a joy to watch him setting up teammates with his magical silver service.

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Boasting a wicked repertoire of passes to unlock defences, that includes line breaking passes to feet, measured through balls in behind, clinical crosses and cutbacks, plus sublime flicks, backheels and one touch passes, he had a pass to match just about any situation.

In addition, his exceptional set-piece delivery elevated his menace, for his accuracy, ability to mix things up and crisp ball striking saw him conjure opportunities frequently.

Golovin shot assists

Moreover, the fact the elite chance creator has now overtaken Joao Moutinho as Monaco’s lead assist getter since 2007 serves as a further testament to his value. “I want to give goals to my attackers, and I think I feel something even stronger than when I shake the net. That’s why I love this gesture so much. I’ve always liked that, it’s the technical gesture in which I thrive the most,” he explained.

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So slick with the ball at his feet and able to wriggle away from danger expertly due to his awareness, scanning, crisp first touch and Velcro-like ball control, this added to his elusiveness.

Rapid to twist and turn away from foes, the fleet of foot and mind dynamo’s feints, shimmies and nifty alterations in pace were vital assets in his armoury to gain separation to wreak havoc in the final third too.

Compounding issues for his adversaries with his incisive movement from his nominal left-sided attacking post, the way he exploited spaces between the lines and in the half spaces, embarked on nifty runs in behind, hugged the touchline to isolate himself vs. his direct opponent and checked deeper to get on the ball in less populated areas was notable.

It also warranted mention how he knew when to help form overloads centrally and wider and rotated crisply with his fellow attackers, plus shared such a quality relationship with full-back Caio Henrique, as the pair dovetailed beautifully to generate room for one another and constantly place doubt in the minds of defenders.

His intelligent, late-arriving runs into the area and the final third were often the catalyst to put his handy finishing to good use, with this amplifying his threat handsomely. 

Putting in a solid shifts on the defensive end as well, his calculated pressing, wise positioning and the way he adhered to his roles and responsibilities ensured the 27-year-old held his own in this compartment.

Consistent, capable of conjuring moments of magic out of nowhere and unquestionably one of the finest players in Ligue 1, it was little wonder ASM acted swiftly to extend his contract until 2027. “Aleksandr is an executive of the group, of which he is one of the most experienced players. This extension reflects a desire to retain high performance players to help us achieve our goals,” said now departed sporting director Paul Mitchell.

“His work and his progress over the past two seasons, particularly on the athletic level, make him a major asset for the club. We are happy that he is continuing the long-term adventure with AS Monaco and are sure that he will be an important element for the final sprint of the season.”

The player himself was just as excited about staying on, stating: “I am very happy to continue my adventure with AS Monaco and I thank the club for this mark of confidence. This opportunity offered to me to be able to register for the long term and to continue my progress here represents a great satisfaction. The team is having a good run in the league again this year and I am very motivated to continue to help them.”

By the numbers from Wyscout compared to players in his similar position in Ligue 1 (central midfielders, wing-midfielders, defensive midfielders), and the fact he ranked joint-first for assists, third for goals, 10th for shots, 11th for shot assists per 90, 13th for deep completions p90, 24th for deep completed passes p90 and 34th for crosses p90 demonstrated his offensive prowess.

Golovin goals and assists
Golovin crosses and shot assists
Golovin deep completions
Golovin shots

In the prime of his career, nigh on unstoppable when at his best and producing the goods more often than not, Golovin definitely took some major strides towards fulfilling his enormous potential last crusade.

The challenge now will be keeping up his momentum and staying healthy in what looms as a huge summer of change for the club in their quest to get back to the upper echelons of Ligue 1.