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No matter the outcome of the match at Juventus Stadium on Tuesday, this season has been an outstanding one for Monaco.
Their achievements of getting to the semi-finals of the Champions League and getting themselves to a title win in Ligue 1 were practically unforeseen at the beginning of the season – and this has come to be as a result of their spectacular display on the pitch.
While some players’ performance have outshine the rest of the squad, there have not been a player of heroic status in the team.
Radamel Falaco may be reputed as a superstar and Kylian Mbappe’s name may be on the mouth of many, but their achievement of the past 10 months wouldn’t have been made possible without the collective effort of the team.
Transfer speculate have therefore been going round over most of the squad members. From full-backs Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy to the central park, where Tiemoue Bakayoko and Fabinho have been awe-inspiring, into the offensive line, where there has been speculation over all of Leonardo Jardim’s players, but most notably Mbappe, the youngster worth £100 million.
Monaco’s purse is large enough that they do not need to sell their key players to raise funds, even if their take on Mbappe is not as strong as they have shown to the public.
With their coffers filled with the £40 million they earned from their run in Europe, the club is financially buoyant. Their transfer policy gives them the opportunity to profit from every sale of their first team members, with the exception of Falcao, so the fates of each player is in their hands.
Vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said as much to Telefoot: “We do not need to sell, the budget is balanced. For the moment, not a single player has told me that they want to leave. We will discuss it all in a relaxed manner. But with the 2018 World Cup, not Thomas, not Kylian, nor maybe Bernardo want to leave. It is not the right time. We are going to do everything to keep them. I can already tell you that Monaco will have a very competitive next season.”
Definitely, these players will be aware of the risk involved if they decide to leave the club in the summer with such a big competition on the horizon. All they need to do is learn from Anthony Martial, who left for Manchester only to be dropped in a corner by Jose Mourinho.
The 21-year-old left Stade Louis II with all the hope of becoming a superstar at Old Trafford but has spent most of his time on the bench in England, only given the opportunity to play recently due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence.
Until left with no choice, Mourinho doesn’t give chances to inexperienced players, and he is not the only one.
They cannot be faulted as the strong competition in Europe compels managers and coaches to go for more experienced players. The hyped Andre Silva has failed to have any impact at Barcelona over the last year, Renato Sanchez is grumbling about not being a first choice at Bayern Munich.
The rewards may be overwhelming, but so too is the demand for perfection.
Certainly, there will be temptation to move, especially for Mbappe, who is a transfer target for many clubs, with Real Madrid topping the list – a club he has once snubbed.
But the demand from such big clubs are higher than what he has experienced in the whole of his career.
Monaco’s fans are more active than they have been credited for, yet this a squad whose audience hardly exceeds 10,000 people. At Santiago Bernabeu, it is an entirely different story: a stadium where even players like Ronaldo are jeered is not the best place for a youngster to hone his skills, especially not coming at such a high fee and with such expectations.
“The most important thing is that you will only perform at your best if you are enjoying what you are doing,” psychologist Phil Johnson told Goal .
“If you look at Kylian Mbappe, the kid always has a smile on his face. He just loves playing football. This is the secret to high performance: to enjoy what you’re doing.”
In such a pressurized atmosphere, suddenly the game becomes very different from what an average player is used to. Winning at Monaco is a plus, but at a such big clubs, result are demanded.
Of a certainty, some player will say their goodbyes to the principality in the summer, but they should have it at the back of their mind that: they may fall to ignominy once they do.