After Mbappe, Mendy, Silva and others depart, Monaco set to rebuild again
Monaco have set a transfer-window record that they could hold for a very long time. By selling seven players -- Abdou Diallo, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Kylian Mbappe, Nabil Dirar and Valere Germain -- for approximately €350 million, they have reached a new level in terms of money recouped and taken the art of selling players to a new dimension.
But this is not the first time there has been an exodus at the Stade Louis II -- the summer of 2015 saw the likes of Anthony Martial, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Layvin Kurzawa, Aymen Abdennour and Yannick Carrasco depart for more than €160m -- and, what's more, it will not be the last, though perhaps not to the heights of this summer.
This is Monaco's business plan. Of course, they want to win trophies like they did last season when they claimed the Ligue 1 title for the first time in 17 years, but their overall philosophy is to make huge profits on player transfers and is based on a three-step strategy.
1. Find the most promising talents
An excellent network of scouts cover matches from Under-12 to first teams in every league across Europe and South America. Carrasco and Martial, to name just two, were spotted playing for other youth clubs in France, as was Mbappe four years ago. The latest promising young player they have discovered is 14-year-old Hannibal Mejbri, who signed for Monaco last week despite interest from the likes of PSG, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs. Also targeted are slightly older professionals, whose promise is yet to be fulfilled; summer signings Youri Tielemans (20) and Keita Balde (22) come into that category.
2. Give them a platform
Leonardo Jardim is a teacher-like manager with an ability to improve players and, what's more, Ligue 1 is the perfect competition for such development. Though not as strong as the Premier League or La Liga, it is nevertheless competitive and offers exposure to players who can express themselves. Tactically, the French league is a great learning curve and those players, who reach the Champions League, can gain additional experience. At Monaco, specifically, there is little pressure from fans or the media. Plus, it is also an idyllic place to live! Once the rough diamonds have been polished, they are ready to be sold.
3. Start a bidding war
When several English clubs wanted a left-back, Mendy became the most expensive defender of all time. Bernardo Silva attracted interest from both Manchester clubs; City won the auction. It was a similar story for Bakayoko and Mbappe, while Thomas Lemar could have been in the same position. With an extra day in the window, a player bought for €4m two years ago would have probably been sold to either Liverpool or Arsenal for around €100m. As it stands, he will leave next summer for even more than that.
After this latest exodus, Monaco are already starting a new cycle and rebuilding the team. Tielemans (€25m) and Balde (€30m) will be part of the next group to be sold on at a profit but, before that, they will form part of a team that looks strong; Jorge, Rony Lopes and Adama Diakhaby are other names to watch.
Give Jardim another two or three years and many of the current squad will move on for millions. In the short term, Monaco will be depleted. And then they will start the rebuild process again.
Julien Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter: @LaurensJulien.