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SPIRO: Monaco right to sanction Mbappé deal

Ligue 1 Conforama > Spiro Blog
01/09/2017

By M. Spiro

News that Monaco had agreed to loan Kylian Mbappé to PSG was met with stupor around the world, but this deal makes sense for all involved, writes Matthew Spiro.

How can the champions allow this sensationally talented teen to join up with their main title rival? And why on earth have they sanctioned a loan? On the face of it, the deal is difficult to comprehend. It hands firepower and huge momentum to PSG and raises the spectre of a terribly one-sided title race.

"If you use supernatural money to pack a team with the best players, you no longer have a competition," warned Jean-Michel Aulas. Like all French football enthusiasts, Lyon's president wants a competitive title race. Ideally, Aulas wants Lyon to be part of that title race. That seems improbable right now. Monaco, however, might just have a chance after a summer in which they have pulled off some extraordinary business.

Going exactly to plan...

Let's not forget that Monaco's 'project' for the last four years has been about acquiring elite young talent, developing the players and selling them on. So far this policy has landed them a Ligue 1 title, a Champions League semi-final and a small fortune in transfers fees. So why should they change?

With PSG prepared to put €180m down for an 18-year-old, who was signed for nothing just 18 months ago and only secured a first-team place in January, the decision was a no-brainer. Of course Monaco would rather have sold to an English or Spanish club. Ultimately though they were left with little choice. Firstly because Mbappé, who was born in the capital and grew up in the Paris suburb of Bondy, desperately wanted to return 'home' to team up with Neymar and friends.

Timing

And secondly because no other club was prepared to pay anything like the fee PSG have reportedly agreed to. Keeping Mbappé in the principality represented a big financial risk. Next summer the France forward would only have had one year left on his Monaco contract - a factor which inevitably drags down any transfer fee - and there is no guarantee his stock would be as high as it is today.

These issues meant PSG's hand was strong enough to push Monaco in to accepting a loan agreement. For the Parisians, such a deal eases the immediate pressure on their finances and reduces the risk of an FFP sanction (particularly if they can prove that the option to buy is not an automatic clause). Monaco, meanwhile, are not short of cash right now. Only a fraction of the money recouped on player sales - Bernardo Silva (€50m), Benjamin Mendy (€58m), Tiemoué Bakayoko (€45m), Valère Germain (€8m) - has been spent on replacements. And of course the injection of the Mbappé cash next summer will be more than welcome.  

Savvy, not silly

Monaco have not just sold indiscriminately. They have accepted deals that were effectively impossible to refuse. Any accusation that money is all that interests the French champions would be unfair and wide of the mark. The sporting side remains fundamental and has certainly not been neglected. They fought hard to keep key components like Fabinho, Radamel Falcao and Thomas Lemar (with offers in excess of €80m rejected for the latter). Danijel Subasic, Djibril Sidibé, Kamil Glik, Jemerson and Joao Moutinho - important components of last season's title triumph - have all remained.

And a remarkable amount of blossoming young talent has again been injected. Indeed, the current squad is packed with young players ready to explode. It would not be surprising if in 12 months Europe's biggest clubs are offering enormous fees for one or several of Youri Tielemans, Baldé Keita, Rachid Ghezzal, Jorge, Gabriel Boschiglia, Rony Lopes and Allan Saint-Maximin.

Two years ago, Monaco were accused of lacking ambition when - after reaching the Champions League quarter-finals - they sold Aymen Abdennour, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Layvin Kurzawa and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco for big money. Yet those sales ultimately freed space for the likes of Lemar, Fabinho and even Mbappé, as well as fuelling reinvestment in the squad. This summer, history is repeating itself albeit on an even bigger scale.

Real politik... and real results

Of course it is a great shame for Monaco fans that Mbappé's breath-taking skills will no longer be showcased at the Stade Louis II. And yes, he is going to make PSG an even more frightening opponent. But perspective and understanding is required here. This is Monaco's method and it's a method that works at a time when no club in France or Europe can get near to matching PSG's spending.

Next weekend Monaco will be looking to win a league match for the 17th time in a row. They have already set a new French record and are now closing in on Bayern's mark of 19 straight wins - a record among Europe's big five leagues. So maybe think twice next time you wonder 'what on earth are Monaco playing at?'

 

>> PLAYER PROFILE: Kylian Mbappé

>> CLUB PROFILE: AS Monaco

>> TRANSFERS: All the summer moves

>> More by Matthew Spiro








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