Further transfers will derail AS Monaco’s hopes

For those involved with AS Monaco, the transfer window can’t close quickly enough.

Despite a strong start to their Ligue 1 title defence, what happens in the next week and a half will have a massive bearing on the course of their season.

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The summer has already seen Les Rouges et Blancs lose Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva and Valere Germain – all central to the club’s impressive 2016/17 season.

And although Monaco has been handsomely recompensed, pulling in €155 million on those four transfers alone, their loss will be difficult to absorb.

Difficult, but not impossible. Manager Leonardo Jardim has had to deal with similar exits in the past. Indeed, under his guidance, AS Monaco have come back stronger.

But if the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Fabhino and Thomas Lemar join the exodus, then surely hopes of a serious title defence and another strong run in the Champions League will have to be written off.

On the flipside, with all still currently on the Monaco books, and with the arrival some interesting talent in the form of Youri Tielemans and Terrence Kongolo, Jardim’s men remain among the favourites for the French title.

Belgian central midfielder Tielemans (20) and Dutch central defender Kongolo (23) certainly fit the recruitment profile that has served Monaco so well in recent seasons.

Young, hungry and talented, the two arrived for €25 million and €15 million from title winning Anderlecht and Feyenoord, respectively.

Both are expected in time to become significant players for the club and to increase their value substantially, in line with the club’s model of buying the best young talent, developing it and selling at the top end of the market.

Of the two, only Tielemans featured – albeit in a brief cameo – in Friday night’s heard-earned win in Metz, as Jardim seeks to ease them into his squad.

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The narrow 1-0 victory was Monaco’s third win in three this season and their 15th league win in a row – a new Ligue 1 record.

The win came courtesy of a 78th minute strike from Radamel Falcao who has begun the season in blistering form – scoring five in the three outings so far.

In all the talk of comings and goings at the club and about the wealth of young talent it has developed, it’s easy to forget just how Jardim has revitalised the Colombian.

The 31-year-old’s return of 30 goals in 43 appearances across all competitions last term could hardly have been envisioned given the feeble nature of his loan spells at Chelsea and Manchester United in recent seasons.

But despite Falcao’s best efforts on Friday evening, Monaco never really approached their best as they struggled to overcome a Metz side they pulverised twice last term.

Last season’s corresponding fixture saw Jardim’s men score seven without reply.

And when the two sides met in Monaco in February, the champions delivered a 5-0 hammering that featured Kylian Mbappe’s first career hat trick.

The Portuguese manager had left Europe’s hottest property out of the match day squad for the weekend’s encounter, suggesting Mbappe’s mind was elsewhere.

And there was little doubt Monaco missed the youngster’s finishing power and ability to stretch opponents.

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Yes, there were flashes of Monaco’s class, particularly as they turned the screw in the second half.

Moutinho, Lemar and Fabhinho owned the ball, while Glik and Jemerson were rarely troubled at the back.

But the Frenchman’s pace, game intelligence and cutting edge were conspicuous by their absence. Such a shame he’s had his head turned.

Realistically, it’s hard to imagine Monaco not losing more key players before the window closes on August 31st, but for the good of Ligue 1 and the game in general, hopefully they can stem the flow.

They were simply breath-taking at times last season, the most entertaining side to watch in the European game.

How nice it would be to see them develop further, even if it’s just for one more season.

But the big fish eat the little fish in football, so the odds are that a single league title and record of consecutive league wins may be all we have to remember them by.

The Author

Paul Little

Freelance football columnist. European Football with the Irish Daily Star. Hold the Back Page podcast regular. Family and Renaissance Man. Dublin born, Wicklow resident.

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