Before OM-MHSC, Elye Wahi: “Helping Montpellier is a source of pride”


Elye, you made a resounding return to competition. Have you found all your feelings?
I feel good, better and better. It's true that I had this little injury that put me out for a few games but I was able to come back well. With the whole team we had a great match against Angers (5-0 on 5 March 2023, eds. note), and it's rewarding because I scored two goals but the important thing is the team. We took these three points and we have a very good dynamic (Montpellier remains on 6 games without a loss in Ligue 1, eds).

A few weeks ago you became the second Ligue 1 player to reach the 20 goal mark before turning 20. The only player with this feat was a certain Kylian Mbappé. Can you feel the tension around you?
Yes… It is true that currently people are talking about me a lot. I have rewarding stats, but I'm not focused on it. I continue to work.

We sense a lot of spontaneity in your approach to football. You even seem airtight against pressure…
I play a position that requires a lot of concentration. So I try to ignore what's around me, to stay focused as much as possible.

Since the start of your career, you have scored two sublime goals: an acrobatic return from a pure center forward (against Lyon on October 22, 2022) and a long rush where you mystify an entire defense (against Angers on March 5, 2023) ). Which one do you prefer?
I'd say the one against Angers because it's a goal I've never scored before. It is an instinctive goal. I start from the midfield and I manage to finish with a great shot from the left… The one against Angers is one of my “darlings”!


Is it the one that defines you the most?
Yes. It's true that in the position I'm playing it's hard to go on a run like that but when I'm on one side I try to hit as much as possible because that's what I like to do. And that's really something that defines me.

Modern football requires a certain versatility. Your speed and striking ability allow you to start your actions on the flanks, but you also have the goal feel of a center forward. In which zone do you feel best?
I'd still say number 9. After that, it's hard to choose for a striker like me who manages to be hard-hitting on one side and can score goals. If I can do both and I'm efficient… But here, today, it's as number 9 that I'm most efficient.

Exactly, what is your strong point in itself? And conversely, the area you want to perfect?
My strong point I would say is the finish. I think it doesn't take much for me to put it in the bottom. Afterwards, where I need to improve the most is with my back to the game. In my training I was used to playing on the sides and less in the shoulder, so that's where I need to improve. .

When you're a goalscorer like you, what's part instinct and part reflection ?
There really are both. Afterwards, I'm not one to think too much, so as soon as the ball comes, I think about implementing my first idea.

“I loved the Drogba celebration”

The ratio of passers to goalscorers is a key factor in the success of a striker. ON Montpellier, you are lucky to be able to rely on a player who has exceptional foot quality: Téji Savanier. Is this a benchmark for a young player like you?
Yes, it is true that with Téji we have a somewhat special relationship. He takes me a bit like his little brother. And now that we are together in Ligue 1, whether in training or in matches, we try to combine as much as possible. He has an extraordinary paw. We try to reproduce in matches what we do in training. And when you look at what we're doing, whether it's this year or last year, I think you can see that we get along really well. On one or two goals we did great actions.

You have already spoken of your admiration for Didier Drogba. What inspired you most about him?
Even his hairstyle, which was not usual (laugh). And then the celebration! That's what I liked about him.

And among the current players, is there a reference striker in your eyes?
I don't really have a “preferred” striker but what (Erling) Haaland is doing at the moment is quite impressive, both statistically and in terms of points. I think any striker can try to take inspiration from him.

“My goal this season? It's not quite achieved”

We live in an age of statistics. Do you pay particular attention to numbers or do you, like Karim Benzema, believe that focusing on them can be dangerous to the detriment of the game?
Karim Benzema is not wrong, we should not focus on the statistics. It's important to feel good in the game as well because if you don't and don't score, you can get into trouble. If you try to combine the two, whether you're scoring or assisting, you'll be happy. I would say try to alternate the two.

Montpellier is a very family club. You were thrown into the deep end at 17, at La Mosson. What is your relationship with La Paillade?
It's a club that trusted me from the moment I arrived. They managed to frame me. Today I am very proud to make them happy, to score goals and to help the team as much as possible.

What are your personal and collective goals?
My goal this season? It has not been fully achieved… I would say that we have to maintain this good momentum. Hoping for a win this weekend in Marseille.

“The French team is a dream, I have to keep doing what I'm doing”

The French team will open a new chapter. There is a big renewal in the offensive sector, we saw it with the emergence of a player like Randal Kolo Muani. You are an Espoir international, you shine with your club. Do you already have the Blues in the back of your mind?
Obvious ! Being French it would be a dream to be called up to the France team, but you shouldn't consider yourself too pretty. I have to keep doing what I'm doing, and if one day I could be called up to the France A team, it would be a dream come true…

And in the club, how do you see the rest of your history? Is there a team or league that appeals to you?
Not necessarily. Today there are 10 days left until the end. We will try to take the points with Montpellier to try to finish as high as possible.

Interview by Jean-Charles Danrée

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