What has happened to Monaco?

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It's fair to say that the recent history of AS Monaco football club has been rather painful for its fans.

In just over a decade they have been the Champions League runners-up, when Didier Deschamps side lost the 03/04 final to Jose Mourinho's Porto and they have been relegated to Ligue 2 as recently as 2011.

Despite having been taken over by the 156th richest man in the world in the shape of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, they have seen their star players leave summer after summer, the most recent of these being their French prodigy Anthony Martial who moved to Manchester United on deadline day.


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When the Russian took over the club in December 2011, they were languishing at the bottom of Ligue 2 with another relegation looking like a very realistic possibility. Thanks to Rybolovlev, this was avoided and the French side are now an established Ligue 1 side once more, however, his takeover is viewed with scepticism amongst many of the Monaco faithful. 

With such vast investment comes expectation and many followers of French football tipped Les Rouges et Blancs to challenge the Qatari-funded PSG project for the status as France's largest and most successful club.

A glance at the history books will tell you that this hasn't exactly been the case - as the Parisian club won a third consecutive French title last season, with Leonardo Jardim's side finishing 12 points behind in third place. 

Admittedly challenging PSG's domestic dominance is not an easy task, however, it seems that Monaco and its owners aren't doing anything to help their case.

In the summer of 2013 they caught the footballing world's attention with an audacious summer spending spree as they brought in household names such as Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Jeremy Toulalan, Eric Abidal and Joao Moutinho as they looked to establish themselves as a new-money European heavyweight, just like their rivals in Paris had already done. 

Monaco's fans were obviously in raptures about these signings and more than anything, it was a statement to the football community that the club could entice some of the finest players in the game. Falcao for one, had just scored 28 goals in 34 La Liga appearances and was one of the hottest properties in world football. Upon signing the Colombian, Rybolovlev vowed to build the team around their new star. 

Fast forward a summer and their two Colombian superstars, Falcao and James Rodriguez were gone without being replaced with similarly talented replacements, much to the Monaco supporters' dismay.

Last season's campaign exceeded many people's expectations, after they famously eliminated Arsenal to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and it was hoped that this would provide a launchpad to move on to similar successes for the new campaign.

This summer has again been one of disappointment after the club sold over half of their side that inflicted their aggregate defeat over Arsenal last season.

Talented left-back Layvin Kurzawa has joined PSG where he will likely be their first choice in that position, rock-solid defender Aymen Abdennour has left for Valencia, French international Geoffrey Kondogbia gone to Inter Milan, they lost Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco to Atletico Madrid, Anthony Martial to Manchester United and Dimitar Berbatov's spell at the club came to an end following the expiry of his contract.

Manager Leonardo Jardim has brought in new recruits, such as Fabio Coentrao and Stephan El-Shaarawy has also arrived on loan, but his squad has been significantly weakened since last season.

Any hope of challenging PSG for the Ligue 1 title has been dealt an early blow as they already find themselves trailing their rivals by seven points after the first four games. Last weekend saw them lose 3-0 at home to the Paris side in a game that was symptomatic of their regression.

Compounded to their domestic under-performance, they lost to Valencia in the qualifying round for this season's Champions League and will now do battle with Tottenham in their Europa League group. They have had many setbacks already this year before the season has really even kicked off.

Overall the Monaco project seems rather half-hearted. The huge investment drive of 2013 is a distant memory, and now the owner is trying to balance the books and instil some continuity into the performance of the team.

After having lost arguably their five best players this summer, it appears that it could be a challenging year for Monaco, a club that has already felt enough pain since their last Ligue 1 title 15 years ago. 

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