It seemed almost impossible to think at the start of the summer transfer window, but here we are discussing a title challenge from Monaco. After almost every star player in the side has either been sold or strongly linked with a move away, Leonardo Jardim and Monaco have found a way to rebuild and look just as strong as they did domestically last season, but playing in a different style.
At the time of writing, Kylian Mbappe hasn’t yet completed his move to Paris Saint-Germain and the futures of both Fabinho and Thomas Lemar are both up in the air, but even if you ignore these three potential transfers, Monaco have already made €159.75 million by selling just eight players. Compare that to the €80.5 million they’ve spent on the likes of Youri Tielemans, Terence Kongolo, Keita Balde and Stevan Jovetic and that is one heck of a business plan that Monaco have executed this summer.
But there transfer business is only side of the story; the rest lies on the pitch. With all the outgoings from star players, it’s baffling to think that Leonardo Jardim hasn’t been approached or offered another job somewhere. What he has achieved at the club in the few years that he has been with them is nothing short of extraordinary, having players sold from underneath him time and time again but yet he still manages to keep the side competitive and last seasons Ligue 1 triumph was incredible, regardless of how poorly PSG may have done.
Fantastic start of the new season for Le Rouges et Blanc
A lot of fans accredit Monaco’s success with PSG’s failings and their lackluster season, but that would be doing Monaco a massive disservice. Le Rouges et Blanc were fantastic from the start and whilst Paris picked up 87 points, nothing could have stopped Monaco, not even the UEFA Champions League.
This season, I don’t think it’ll be a disaster for the club. Are they weaker than last season? Of course, you don’t lose the likes of Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva Tiemoue Bakayoko and Kylian Mbappe and get stronger, but the players that they have bought in are still better than most of the players at sides like Nice and Marseille (as the recent 6-1 demolition proved).
The core of the side from last season somewhat remains, with four of the back five intact and of course Radamel Falcao is slowly working his way back into the list of the best strikers in the world and the additions made to the squad are outstanding as well. Jovetic replaces Germain; a back up striker that could always be relied on for a goal off the bench, Keita Balde and Adama Diakhaby will provide pace and potential be replacements for Thomas Lemar and Mbappe, whilst Kongolo and Tielemans add a youthful yet safe option at left back and central midfield respectively. It may not be as formidable and as quick as last season, but this Monaco team still has the firepower to push PSG all the way.
PSG buy big, but anything is possible?
Yet, despite all the positives, there is one negative and it doesn’t actually have anything to do with Monaco themselves. The negative is that Paris Saint-Germain has completely blown everyone out of the water with their transfer activity. They may have only signed three players at the time of writing (Mbappe is set to be announced very soon) but two of those three players have made the world sit up and take notice. Dani Alves was first, and then came his good friend Neymar to the Parc des Princes and now everyone expects Paris to demolish Ligue 1 and after their first few performances, you can see why. They’ve looked outstanding and are a very exciting side to watch, but if they’ve learnt anything from last season it is do not rest on your laurels.
If Monaco can just keep winning and putting pressure on the Parisiens, anything is possible. All it takes is one or two slip-ups for Monaco to be back in the race to retain their crown, but it is undoubtedly harder than last season. But can they do it? Absolutely they can! I don’t want this to look like I’m claiming Monaco will win Ligue 1, but I am saying they are more than capable of putting up a challenge and giving PSG a run for their money. It isn’t all doom and gloom in Monte Carlo, the outlook is quite positive, and so it should be.