PROFILING HIS BEST ATTRIBUTES ASSESSING HIS FUTURE ANALYSING HIS STATS LEARNING ABOUT HIS STORY SO FAR
This profile was originally published in the fifth edition of the Scouted Football Handbook, available here.
Who is Benoît Badiashile?
February 17, 2022 update: Despite a reported bid from Newcastle United after the Magpies were unable to sign Sven Botman from Lille, Badiashile did not move to England in the January window.
However, a move in the summer is still a distinct possibility for the young defender. Should Eddie Howe keep Newcastle in the Premier League, expect the 20-year-old to once again be linked with a move to the north of England.
Note: This profile was first written in November 2020, during the 2020/21 season. All statistics and facts are correct to that time period.
In France, Paris and its surrounding banlieues have been credited with developing some of the nation’s most talented players. The unforgiving demands of street football provide an escape for difficult childhoods, while simultaneously moulding technique and mentality fit for the highest level.
But potential can also thrive elsewhere – which Benoît Badiashile has quickly proven after growing up in the picturesque city of Limoges.
Badiashile was scouted by local side Limoges FC aged eight, before joining SC Malesherbes the following summer. The defender spent the next eight years with le rouge et les blancs before his performances began to draw attention from various Ligue 1 clubs. AS Monaco – who were known for their impressive scouting process – ended up winning the race for his signature in 2016 before placing him in their B team.
And it was there the teenager began to turn heads. In both quality and stature, he soared above his peers eventually resulting in the talented defender signing a professional contract in 2018. Following the dismissal of title-winning coach Leonardo Jardim, Badiashile made his first-team debut under Thierry Henry in the 4-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain and later enjoyed a consistent run in the side. Despite Monaco suffering domestically and avoiding relegation by just two points, the defender impressed in his 20 appearances.
Another strong season followed in 2019/20 with the Frenchman continuing to find his feet under Robert Moreno. Physically, he began to fill out and started embracing competition with established professionals, which eventually lead to interest from Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen in the summer transfer window. But Monaco rebuffed all offers and Badiashile has since become a mainstay under newly-appointed Niko Kovač.
Benoît Badiashile's style of play
At face value, Badiashile profiles extremely well as a central defender. He stands at around 6′4′′ with the speed and athletic capacity to defend in space, as well as the strength and agility to compete in tight areas.
Under Kovač, Monaco deploy a 4-3-3 shape that relies mostly on creating through central areas, handing midfielders Aurélien Tchouaméni and Aleksandar Golovin license to push forward. This places significant responsibility on Badiashile to cover ground should turnovers occur – a role he performs admirably alongside the more mercurial Axel Disasi.
But Badiashile truly excels in the air. He is dominant when battling centre forwards – averaging 4.8 aerial wins per 90 minutes this season, the third best rate in Ligue 1 behind Andy Delort (5.3) and Steve Mounié (7.3). The 19-year-old uses his powerful frame to post up, get touch-tight on his marker and time his leaps to perfection before he can even be challenged.
His height presents a natural advantage, but possessing ability to read the game and, subsequently, the flight of a ball makes him look effortless. His emergence has helped minimise the loss of physical, old-school captain Kamil Glik who possessed similar traits.
The teenager is also surprisingly assured in possession. With Cesc Fàbregas back in favour at the Stade Louis II, build-up understandably circulates through him but Badiashile has proven his worth when distributing from deep. After receiving the ball from his goalkeeper, he will look to initiate attacks and, even better, play through the lines of a high press or deep block.
After eight Ligue 1 fixtures this season, 59 percent of his 666 passes have been played forward, while his 5.3 progressive passes per 90 are only bettered by Ruben Aguilar and Fàbregas among his Monaco team-mates. There is also variety in his catalogue.
Monaco gravitate towards quick, intricate football but have deployed a joker card to which the 19-year-old is central: his hugely effective diagonal passing affords right-sided pair Ruben Aguilar and Gelson Martins freedom to push forward and create wide overloads.
His 6.8 long balls per 90 can only be bettered by four defenders in Ligue 1, and with the modern game favouring quick transitions, having somebody to execute these passes remains extremely valuable.
Despite his strong reading of the game, Badiashile should aim to improve his defensive positioning. Unsurprisingly for such a tall player, he finds body adjustments and quick changes of direction difficult.
But the 19-year-old does himself no favours, foregoing the usual doctrine of standing at a 45-degree angle to cover attackers either coming inside or meeting the by-line and instead approaching duels with a straight body – leaving him vulnerable to tricky wingers who can go either way. His tackling technique is also strangely unorthodox.
Thanks to his long legs, the teenager is emphatic in full stride and imperious when leaping – but also prone to laziness in duels. He has a bad habit of reaching around from strange angles and forcing unnatural body positions – which has a mixed success rate – but an awkward fall or heavy collision could lead to injury with his weight unsupported.
This likely stems from dominance at youth level where duels were easy for him and some minor adjustments would benefit him moving forward.
Forecasting Benoît Badiashile's future
Most centre-backs establish themselves during their mid-twenties after four or five regular seasons of football. Badiashile already looks a natural fit with 50 senior appearances to his name. The Monaco man is athletic, physically impressive and veering away from traditional expectations with impressive ball-playing ability. His inexperience remains a valid concern but is balanced by his promising core attributes that can still be refined.
Judging quality from Ligue 1 has proven difficult in recent years. Big money departures like Nicolas Pépé, Thomas Lemar and Tanguy Ndombélé have struggled to replicate their form in pastures new, while Gabriel Magalhães, Fabinho and Jules Koundé – who were moderately priced – have impressed.
Badiashile will likely sit somewhere in the middle. Summer bids of €25 million were simple for Monaco to reject, with that figure expected to double in two seasons.
On current trajectory, Badiashile will undoubtedly be featuring among the European elite in years to come. But having just established himself there is no need to rush – consistent playing time will benefit both his current evolution and future.