What is it with AS Monaco and wonderkids?
The principality side is practically a production line of next generation talent with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Anthony Martial rising through their ranks.
With similarly youthful stars such as Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Thomas Lemar adorning their squad last season, Monaco romped their way to the Ligue 1 title.
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Over the summer, though, the transfer window indicated quite the power shift.
While Paris Saint-Germain have splurged over £300 million on Neymar and Mbappe, Monaco have been selling players by the second. The aforementioned Mendy and Bakayoko as well as Bernardo Silva, for example, all flocked to the Premier League.
The trio were following in the footsteps of Anthony Martial, who was arguably the first starlet of Monaco’s most recent run in France’s top division.
Manchester United snapped up the forward in 2015 for a fee that could rise to £73 million if a series of bonuses are met. Few supporters knew Martial when he signed but it didn’t take them long to learn.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a sensational debut campaign at Old Trafford, finishing the year as their top scorer. And while his form has stagnated somewhat under Jose Mourinho, his talent remains clear for all to see.
For all intents and purposes, Thomas Lemar looked set to be the next Martial this summer. With bids in excess of £90 million, both Arsenal and Liverpool were tailing the young star but with little success.
It begs the question as to why Monaco would shed their star French winger in 2015 but not in 2017, even with inflated transfer fees.
Fans would perhaps suggest it was down to the fact Monaco had already lost Mbappe – and seemingly half their squad – already but their vice president has a different answer.
When asked the difference between Martial and Lemar, Vadim Vasilyev told L’Equipe: “In 2015 we had to sell in order to meet FFP conditions, so it was more of an obligation.
“We are, currently, financially safe and sound.
“You sell when you think it’s the right time. You’ve got to accept the risk (to then sell someone at a lower price the next time round) and it’s by taking risks that we have got here.”
So it seems circumstances favoured Manchester United in 2015, far better than they did Arsenal and Liverpool two years on.
Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp were simply so slow out the blocks that the French champions no longer had any need for the money. If you snooze you lose as far as Monaco are concerned, clearly.
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