Monaco mustn’t mope – there’s plenty to be proud of

Date published: Tuesday 9th May 2017 11:55

Monaco: Defeated City at home

AS Monaco may have been somewhat outclassed in the Champions League semi-finals by Juventus, but there is a lot of reason for optimism.

As the camera penned towards the away section of the Juventus Stadium with half an hour left, there were mortified faces, hands on heads and looks of dejection.

Indeed, these were likely reflections both of awe at how well their hosts had dispatched of them and how their dreams of a trip to Cardiff (as unlikely as that statement would sound out of context) were fading fast.

On the contrary, although of course disappointment was obvious, there is actually so much to be optimistic about if you are a Monaco fan.

For starters, it’s worth acknowledging that Leonardo Jardim has produced a strategy two-and-a-half years in the making that has them playing some of the best football in Europe.

The club reached a Champions League semi-final which likely was far ahead of expectations at the start of the season. Their Ligue 1 campaign that sees them on the brink of a first title since 2000, toppling the monopoly that PSG have spent many millions to protect. They even managed to reach the Coupe de la Ligue final and the Coupe de France semis despite the juggling act.

Kylian Mbappe leads the line, full-backs Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy supply, Bernardo Silva picks the lock while Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko keep the shape and add energy in midfield.

Add to that the experienced and complementary figures of Kamil Glik, Joao Moutinho and Radamel Falcao, and you could argue that everything is right about this club.

The resurrection of Falcao is a story in itself; the 31-year-old had seen his career stall after moves to Manchester United and Chelsea on loan, but this season he has been infected by the youthful spirit.

Leonardo Jardim: Welcomes Premier League interest

The brave mentality instilled by the coach is one which was reflected in his comments before the tie.

“Even if we concede at home, I am confident we’ll be able to score in Turin,” Jardim said in his pre-match press conference. “We scored three past Dortmund, we scored against Tottenham, after all.”

It is a style built on playing fast, creative and intelligent attacking football while being organised and determined at the other end.

The French giants are doing things the right way too. No longer breaching FFP rules for fun, the squad has an average age of just over 24 and there has been a huge emphasis on youth development.

Without wanting to put a dampener on the project, one that most Premier League clubs could aspire to but likely never achieve, it seems to be a case of when rather that if the young core will be broken up.

Bakayoko, Mbappe, Mendy and Fabinho continue to be linked with big-money moves to some of Europe’s elite, such is the nature of football nowadays that developing your own players is seemingly too much to ask.

One thing is for sure though: the money that Monaco will make from some of the aforementioned names (when they do move on) will put them on stable footing for years to come.

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