AS Monaco stormed to the French Ligue 1 title in one of France’s most entertaining seasons for some time. The club scored an outrageous 107 goals as they edged out reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain for the title. It was just the fourth season since Monaco returned to Ligue 1 after being relegated to the hell of playing division two football, and it was another season in which they showed the club are France’s football factory.
The principality team are already selling off their most prized players following their title win as Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva was recently shipped off to Manchester City. Defender Benjamin Mendy is set to leave as well and could join Silva in England. Fifteen goal striker Kylian Mbappe is being courted by Arsenal, and it appears Monaco could – unfortunately – look like a shell of their 2016-17 title winning squad when next season begins.
Despite the likely sales of Monaco’s best players, it isn’t the first time that the club have parted ways with top talent. Over the last few seasons, Monaco have allowed highly valued players to leave, only to replace them with even better players on the pitch. It is unlikely the team can find enough high-quality replacements to challenge for another Ligue 1 title, but France’s football factory could surprise a few once again next season.
Silva, Mendy and Mbappe may be Monaco’s current big star transfer sales, but they certainly aren’t the first or the last to come out of France’s football factory.
James Rodriguez – signed for €45m, sold for €80m
James Rodriguez played just one season for Monaco, and that came in the 2013-14 season. Signed from Portuguese giants Porto, Rodriguez scored nine goals in 34 games. He added a further 12 assists to lead the team to a second place finish behind PSG; missing out on the title by nine points. It was Rodriguez’s play at the 2014 World Cup, however, that put Real Madrid over the edge in their decision to sign the player. He scored five goals in five games for Colombia in Brazil, and the rest is history. Monaco sold the playmaker for €80m, and since leaving, Rodriguez has had mixed results despite adding to his trophy cabinet.
Geoffrey Kondogbia – signed for €20m, sold for €31m
Geoffrey Kondogbia joined Monaco after the team won Ligue 2 at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. The defensive midfielder was superb for the team, tallying 2.2 tackles a match his first season, and following it up with 3.1 per game in his second season. His stellar play in the middle of the park influenced Inter Milan to part with €31m.
Anthony Martial – signed for €5m, sold for €41m (approx)
No player exemplifies Monaco’s buy low, sell high transfer policy more than Anthony Martial. Bought from Lyon for €5m as a teenager, the winger had only played three senior games when Monaco signed him. His Monaco debut season was modest, playing 11 times in Ligue 1 and scoring two goals. A year later, Martial scored nine in 35 French top-flight games. Manchester United bought him for the future at a cost of €41m, which could rise to as much as €60m.
Yannick Carrasco – signed for free, sold for €20m
Yannick Carrasco is one of the most exciting players in Spain’s La Liga currently, and is one of Belgium’s main men at international leave. Seven years ago, Carrasco joined Monaco for free from Belgian side Genk. Two years later, he debuted for Monaco’s senior side as the club fought their way out of Ligue 2. Only a teen, Carrasco netted eight goals in 31 appearances as Monaco gained promotion. After a down year in 2013-14, Carrasco returned to his excellent form for the club, netting seven goals and 11 assists for Monaco in 2014-15. Atletico Madrid came calling, and Carrasco has gone on to even greater success.
Football fans can only dream of the team Monaco could have been if the club had kept these players. Unfortunately, it will be one of the great football mysterious, as the current Ligue 1 champions continue to be France’s football factory with their buy low, sell high system.