This Sunday, September 17, Lorient welcome Monaco for the 7th day of Ligue 1. To stop Monaco, the league’s leading attacking force with 13 goals, the Merlus will need their boss and one of Ligue 1’s best defenders: Montassar Talbi. An indisputable starter in 2022-2023, with 38 games played out of 38, all as a starter, the Tunisian defender is shining. His team-mates have even given him a nickname. It’s a good way for the 25-year-old to measure his progress.
At Lorient, the boss of the defense is Montassar Talbi. The Tunisian defender annihilates opposing attacks with rare neatness. So much so that his team-mates nickname him Monsieur Propre. His interventions are so clinical that he received no yellow cards in 38 Ligue 1 matches last season. The same is true of this season, where he has yet to receive a yellow card after 4 Ligue 1 matches: “The nickname has been around for a while. From the second half of last season onwards, as soon as the stat about my not having received a card came out, several people started calling me Monsieur Propre. It’s something that goes round the dressing room a bit and I take it well. For me, defending cleanly is always positive,” the Carthage Eagle told the Ligue 1 media. He won 67% of his duels last season.
However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t go to the duel.
Far from it. Montassar Talbi is simply applying his accumulated experience.“Don’t think that I don’t go to duels or that I refuse contact!On the contrary, I’m a player who likes to be close to the striker, to make him feel my presence, and who likes to win as many duels as possible. I think I’ve simply grown in maturity and experience, and that allows me to defend more intelligently than in the past. He then adds.“Before, I used to make a lot of mistakes and take a certain number of cards, but now I’m more into anticipating and above all reading the game.I know that there are places where you shouldn’t make a foul and where it’s better to let the striker with the ball make a back-pass. When that happens, it’s like winning a duel! I learn from my mistakes as the years go by and the games I play add up.
Becoming even better
The 25-year-old has come a long way.Indeed, the Tunisian international (31 caps, 2 goals) believes that there is one specific area in which he has honed his skills since joining Lorient in the summer of 2022. “We’re lucky enough to work with a coach and a staff that enable us to make progress in a number of areas. I feel I’ve improved in terms of analyzing the game in real time, understanding it, adapting to it and finding solutions to the problems posed by our opponents.On the pitch, this can be seen in my choice of exits or the way I defend in relation to the way the opposing attack combines,” Montassar Talbi soberly points out.
So, does this mean that the Lorient native is satisfied with his current quality? Absolutely not! To the question of which aspects he would like to improve, Montassar Talbi answers straightforwardly: “All of them!I think you always have to keep building on your strengths to become a better player. After that, I’m not necessarily going to say what my weak points are in an interview, otherwise the strikers will target them (smile). With the coach, we’re focusing more and more on details: positioning on the pitch, body positioning… Aspects that can help me evolve and become even more effective in my throw-ins. In any case, here, the development of each player is paramount. We have everything at our disposal. If you want to progress, you’ve got everything you need!You can’t make excuses!