The Monaco’s Striker Islam Slimani
Despite starting his season long loan at AS Monaco in scintillating fashion, as he formed a formidable strike partnership with Wissam Ben Yedder on his way to scoring seven goals and supplying seven assists, Islam Slimani’s now lost his starting berth.
Seeing as the now departed Leonardo Jardim preferred playing two upfront, which allowed him to shine for the opening months of the campaign, his fortunes have changed since Robert Moreno took over recently. With the Spaniard preferring to play Ben Yedder as the chief striker, this has relegated the Leicester City loanee to the substitutes’ bench.
When quizzed on why Slimani’s been missing from recent squads, Moreno played down transfer speculation linking him with a move away, insisting the Algerian has been out due to injury. “Slimani is an important player I told him. You have to wait until your physical problems are finished. For me he is a great player, he knows it. I hope he can come back quickly, he still feels some pain,” stated Moreno.
If reports are to be believed coming out of France Football, Slimani even apparently requested his loan from the Foxes be cut short so he could complete a move away from Ligue 1. With Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur gunning for his signature in January, losing Slimani would have been a big blow for Monaco, who also lost fellow attacker Jean-Kevin Augustin, but he ended up staying as no deal could be reached.
A proven goalscorer with so much talent, the Algerian international will still surely be a super option for Moreno, with his skill set allowing him to be a threat as a starter or off the bench.
Such a handful because of his hulking 188cm frame, strength, aerial prowess and intimidating approach, Slimani constantly tests backlines. Offering himself as a wonderful target man and reference point, his presence sees him give his team a vital option for goal kicks, long balls, deliveries into the areas and to win second balls high up.
Moreover, his strength and size, in combination with his technical qualities, mean he’s proficient at dropping deep to link play with his back to goal. Able to fend off markers, outmuscle them and protect the ball, he evades incoming pressure while waiting for an option.
Slimani’s dropping deep smartly to find space between the lines
To shine the spotlight on his work in possession, and his sound ball control and first touch enables him to link play crisply with some lovely flicks, backheels, through balls and one and two touch passes. Furthermore, the way he can turn away from danger using his crafty feints to beat or unbalance his tracker duly enhances his menace.
Slimani’s superb through ball into the box
Slimani’s wicked over the top through ball assisit to Ben Yedder
Meanwhile, when looking at his movement, Slimani’s very adept in this regard, as the experienced 31-year-old’s brilliant at identifying and exploiting spaces within the final third. So crafty at timing his runs into the box, he’s a master at knowing where nearby defenders are and finding space. Whether holding back his runs to be an option for a cutback, attacking the front or back post or pushing centrally, he tailors his movement smartly.
The same applies when he runs in behind and into the channels, as he notes where the ball holder is and moves instinctively to angle his runs between gaps or to get the jump on his man. Some extra little things he gets right is how he pins and draws markers to generate space for others and how he uses swift dismarking moves like zig zags and double movements to gain separation to shoot or get free of his man.
Slimani’s excellent run into the vacant channel run
Slimani’s wicked run in behind before rounding the keeper to score
Slimani’s lovely finish as he remains balanced and calm to finish confidently
By the numbers this term, his 0.62 goals per game, 0.42 assists pg, 3.03 shots pg, 5.16 touches inside the box pg, 1.27 shot assists pg and 21.13 completed passes pg demonstrates his worth.
While Slimani will probably be somewhat disgruntled that he couldn’t secure a move back to the Premier League, which was predominantly down to Leicester not wanting to loan him to a top four rival, it’ll be intriguing to see what role he’ll play for Monaco in the closing months of the campaign.
If he can recalibrate his focus and Moreno can find a way to involve him with greater regularity, there’s no doubting Slimani could be an integral figure in their quest to rise up the table and eventually reach the European places.
Preview by: EdwardStratmann
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