When Monaco sounded out their intentions to rival Paris Saint-Germain for the right to sit on the throne of French football, even they must have understood that it was going to be a long road to the top.
Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev’s financial backing allowed them to surge out of the Ligue 2 mire that they'd managed to sink to the bottom of, and world-renown talents such as Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho were purchased to ensure that their ascension would only be complete when they were fighting for the Ligue 1 crown. In many ways they’ve been successful to date, having managed to finish second during their first season back in France’s elite division in the 2013/14 campaign.
However even optimistic Monaco fans will agree that an incident which has already taken place this summer threatens to derail their express train prematurely. The club’s decision to cash in on the aforementioned Rodriguez - following his sensational World Cup showing - was fine and dandy from a monetary point of view (Monaco made around €80million from the deal) but it has most certainly dented their ambitions with regards to making headway on both the domestic and European fronts.
Naturally fans are worried that Real Madrid have taken away their most prized asset, and it is fair to say they have validated cause for concern. But is this really the end for the Monaco juggernaut? Or are their others who can step in and smooth over the transition from a side with Rodriguez to a side without him?
Writing live from the Emirates Cup, GiveMeSport gives you four reasons why fans can be optimistic ahead of the new season..
Recently signed by the club, the big defender impressed after joining on loan in January, and his move was made permanent at the beginning of last month. A threat in the air - he scored against Valencia at this tournament - and an assured presence in the heart of the defence, Abdenhour has plenty of time to grow. The 24-year-old isn’t a direct replacement for Rodriguez by any means, but he’s certainly going to aid Monaco when it comes to keeping out opponents.
With the exception of one or two others he’s perhaps Monaco’s most naturally gifted player. A huge presence in the centre of the park Kondogbia was wanted by a host of clubs before signing for the principality in 2013, and continues to be linked with th biggest clubs in European football. A one-time France international, he is definitely one for the future.
The composed orchestrator of play in the midfield, Toulalan’s experience is second to none within the squad, and his ability to influence matches with pin-point passing will be more important than ever without Rodriguez in the side. Having been tipped for big things for some years now it’s make or break time for the Frenchman, and he needs to prove that he’s not just wasted potential.
The most important player in the squad and an individual who must make a huge impact this season, Falcao still needs to justify his huge price-tag in the eyes of many. The Colombian is lethal on his day, though injuries have somewhat hampered his career in Ligue 1 to date. Now that he’s back - making his return today coincidentally - it’s time that he finds the form he routinely displayed whilst at Porto and Atletico Madrid.