Lying on France’s Mediterranean coastline and close to the Italian border, we find Monaco, a city-state known for many things such as casinos, yachts, the famous Grand Prix and being a tax heaven. However, the Principality’s pride and joy must be the football team, AS Monaco. One of most historic and successful clubs in French football without even being from the country!
Last season was not great but we made the main objective, which was to get on the podium in order to get Champions League football. You could clearly see that losing half the first team in one summer affected us, especially since we did not replace them properly. Last season Champions League campaign was one of our worst ever. It looks like our season will be the same. We started the season by losing to Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 in the Trophée des Champions final, which is the French Super Cup. We started our league by beating Nantes 3-1 but I can definitely say that the score line is flattering since we were dominated in possession for 70 minutes. Then it was a goal less draw against Lille, where we were dominated in possession once again. Falcao’s penalty miss did not make the situation any better. After that two defeats to Bordeaux and Marseille followed, both with decisive goals after the 90th minute. Unless we become better defensively and pass the ball better, I cannot see this situation getting better.
Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain [permanently]), Thomas Lemar (Atlético Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Terence Kongolo (Huddersfield Town [permanently]), Rachid Ghezzal (Leicester City), Adama Diakhaby (Huddersfield Town), Soualiho Meïté (Torino), João Moutinho (Wolves), Rúben Vinagre (Wolves [permanently]) Keita Baldé (Inter [loan fee + option to buy]), Adrien Bongiovanni (Cercle Brugge [loan]), Gabriel Boschilia (Nantes [loan]), Jonathan Mexique (Cholet [loan]), Ibrahima Diallo (Brest [loan]), Gil Dias (Nottingham Forest [loan + option to buy]), Jorge (Porto [loan]), Lacina Traoré (mutual termination) and Elderson Echiéjilé (mutual termination)
Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer Leverkusen), Willem Geubbels (Lyon), Jean-Eudes Aholou (Strasbourg), Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion), Antonio Barreca (Torino), Pelé (Rio Ave), Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel (Saint-Étienne), Samuel Grandsir (Troyes) and Sofiane Diop (Rennes [free])
There have been more arrivals but those above are for the first team only.
What to expect from AS Monaco:
After barely getting 2nd place last season, we were in Pot 3 where we were one of many good teams. I would say that was the case for all of the Pots. With how it could have been and how some of the groups turned out, I think we will be okay with the outcome where we drew Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge.
That group is very interesting. I think aiming for 1st will be a bit ambitious so I feel 2nd should be the aim. I think it will be between Borussia Dortmund and us for that 2nd spot. It really depends on if our key players like Falcao and Rony Lopes plus our defence step up. Club Brugge will finish 4th.
Players to watch for:
Rony Lopes: The Portuguese winger had a fantastic first season last season after returning from a two-year loan at Lille. Being unstoppable at times, he was one of Monaco revelations where he guided Monaco to a 2nd place with his 15 goals and 7 assists.
Aleksandr Golovin: The Russian star arrived in the Principality after a brilliant World Cup in his home country where he was a big part of Russia getting to a quarter final, their greatest achievement since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The club faced a lot of competition for him from Juventus and especially Chelsea and we had to put €30m on the table, a fee I think is very reasonable for a player like Golovin. He still has not made his debut for the club due to an ankle injury and I cannot wait to watch him play.
Youri Tielemans: The young Belgian’s season last season was not exactly what was expected from him due to him not settling in properly plus a few injuries but I think he will be one of few players to watch for this season. You could already see a glimpse of it during the World Cup where grabbed the chance when he played, delivering a few assists. He also scored his first league goal for us against Marseille last match. He has to step up this season because he is needed and I am sure he will.
Antonio Barreca: The young Italian left back was signed from Torino to try to close the gap Benjamin Mendy left behind, after both Jorge and Kongolo failed to do so last season. In addition, so far I feel he has done well. He is good offensively and okay defensively. As long as he stay injury free, I think he can be a key player.
Pietro Pellegri: The Italian wonderkid arrived from Genoa for a little over €20m in January. Big fee for a 16 year old at the time but I feel it will be a bargain in the future. He made his debut a month later against Dijon after a 4 min cameo and became the youngest ever to make an appreance for the club, beating Kylian Mbappé’s record by 14 days. Then he did not play for the rest of the season due to an injury but he returned recently against Bordeaux where he came in as a substitute and scored his first goal for the club, becoming the 2nd youngest goalscorer for Monaco behind Kylian Mbappé. I am very excited to see how he does it this season.