Monaco has had a very profitable summer from transfers after selling almost all of their star and title-winning players to Premier League clubs, and the rumour mill continues with talks of Kylian Mbappé leaving for Real Madrid and Thomas Lemar joining Arsenal.
Even if they stop selling players now, manager Leonardo Jardim still faces the heavy challenge of having to restore and re-motivate a team that have lost £150 million worth of talent in only three months after making it to the Champions League semi-finals and winning Ligue 1.
So far, Monaco’s biggest payments have come from Benjamin Mendy (£52 million), Bernardo Silva (£43 million) and Tiemoué Bakayoko (£39.6 million) but they will be sure to miss players like Valère Germain and Nabil Dirar, who sold for £6.8 million and £4 million respectively.
Of course, selling this amount of players comes with finding replacements – something Monaco have been keeping themselves busy with. They’ve took on Terence Kongolo from Feyenoord for £11.5million and Youri Tielemans is joining from Anderlecht for £21.5 million.
They also have some highly rated loanees returning, who Jardim will need to rely on, including Rony Lopes (Lille), Adama Traoré (Rio Ave) and Allan Saint-Maximin (Bastia).
But how well will Monaco manage now that they have sold their biggest and title winning stars?
Their success this season will largely depend on Jardim’s tactical approach. Last season after signing Mendy and bringing in Djibril Sidibé, Jardim built the mostly attack-minded 4-4-2 formation that served them so well. It was one thing that caused them to beat Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title and to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Now, Jardim has yet again got to prove he can make a usable squad from the players he has.
The manager is unlikely to deviate from his 4-4-2 formation whilst he still has Mbappé and Radamel Falcao, and midfielder João Moutinho could step in for Bakayoko whilst Kongolo could replace Medny at full-back.
The problem, however, is that Silva played a big part in that formation with his unique and brilliant skill set. Being the right-sided midfielder, he could move from either flank or in the centre and could adapt his role in different situations. Now that he’s gone, this creates a problem for Monaco.
Although both Saint-Maximin and Lopes could replace him and each have great skill, neither have been tested at a top level. They both have a lot of potential, but they cannot be counted upon. In recent friendlies, Monaco have used the 4-4-2 with either Saint-Maximin or Lopes playing in for Silva, yet a different formation could possibly suit this team better.
However, an even bigger worry could be Monaco’s lack of depth. Again, much of their rotation last season relied on Silva, Sidibé and Andrea Raggi. But now that Silva has left for Manchester City, Sidibé being their only left-back and Raggi just turning 33-years-old, Monaco don’t have many options from the bench.
At the end of the day, even if Jardim changed tactics, focused less on attack, changed the formation, or continued with the same philosophy, Monaco will still have to rely on a younger squad. With so many changes to their team, they can not be expected to play at the same level as they did last season.
But Jardim is not one to back down from a challenge, and if he puts in the conspicuous effort that will definitely be needed for this new team, then the potential and talent for a similarly successful season is definitely there. There is no denying that it will be a mammoth task for Jardim, but one that could ultimately pay off in the long run.
(Featured Image credit: ESPN FC)