FOOTBALL/Go youth! This could be AS Monaco’s motto. Back to basics?
The Rybolovlev-Vasilyev plan is not without substance!” beIN Sports headlined straight after the win against Arsenal. Since AS Monaco has proven itself in the Ligue and the Champions League, the Red and Whites’sports plan focusing on young treasures has been acclaimed. Is the jeering finished? Yet it started a long way off. Exactly a year ago, the departure of stars Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Eric Abidal and coach Claudio Ranieri marked a change of course in the recruitment policy. Out with the flashy. The stars of football were replaced with a ‘’baby bottle grade’’, going back somewhat to the fundamentals of the Campora era. Then everyone commented, “the Monegasque ship is sinking” or “Monaco is alone and completely nude. Everyone has gone off. The leaders have bitten off more than they could chew,” said the outrageous Jean-Michel Larqué. Amid rumours of Rybolovlev’s disappointed Monegasque passport application and the divorce of the century – at the time the Swiss justice system had required him to assign half his fortune to his ex-wife – this change in strategy was explained by several tangible reasons. That same year, the Russian chairman had to resolve to pay 50 million euro to settle his dispute with the professional football league – which was better than the 200 million initially proposed by FFF president Noël Le Graet – and accept the tougher stance of the UEFA rules on financial fair play. No more lavish spending. Now every club has to pull out of its wallet what it earns. Tricky in a Monegasque context in which ticketing and merchandising don’t fill ASM’s coffers. The result was that to avoid sanctions (fines that the managers haven’t been able to prevent in the end, incidentally), AS Monaco had to opt for a more ‘rational’business model.”
After a sluggish start to the season, Leonardo Jardim’s group accumulated performance. Mocked for his very defensive football (and play that was a little dull), the team still managed to finish third in the league and reach the Champions League quarter finals, before struggling with Juventus from Turin. It did so by focusing on the young shoots Kurzawa, Martial and Bernardo Silva, flanked by old hands like Abdennour, Toulalan or João Moutinho and Dimitar Berbatov.
There you go again
And this season, there you go again. AS Monaco confirmed its strategy during the transfer window. Very actively, for its 9 recruits the club targeted young talent with high potential… and low cost since the total amount rose to 49 million euro, largely offset by its departures – at added value – which total 60 million euro. Far from PSG’s transfer window. The Egyptian international player Stefan El Shaarawy turned out to be the club’s top recruit. With Farès Bahlouli, Thomas Lemar, Guido Carillo, Ivan Cavaleiro, Mario Pasalic, Helder Costa, Paul Nardi and Adama Traoré, the hopes of European football. For their part, players like Carvalho, Toulalan, Raggi, Subasic and Dirar were extended. All so as to aim for the French league podium and tickle the European stars.
Agreement with the LFP
But before aiming for titles, Monaco still has to settle some formalities with the LFP. In July, the Conseil d’Etat cancelled the agreement linking ASM with the professional football league. This transaction – “a small miracle” in the words of the club’s director Willy de Bruyn who participated with great discretion in the LFP negotiations – has been questioned. Payment of a 50 million euro compensation balance made it possible to remove from the horizon any new league threat regarding exclusion from the French championship. This sword of Damocles, which the LFP justified as tax inequity, was a real bombshell for Monaco in 2013 when Willy de Bruyn stated, “The Prince has repeated several times that the football club is the social glue holding the population of Monaco together. You can imagine how it would have been, had the football club been forced to be moved to France.”
With the Conseil d’Etat decision, “the Monegasque club is allowed to take part in the championship with no financial consideration. At the risk of reviving the already strong tension between the directors of some French clubs and the Ligue,” notes lawyer Ronan David, co-founder of the website droitdusport. com. What will happen next? “Cancellation of the new provisions of the rules has the effect of restoring the provision adopted in 2013, which requires clubs wishing to take part in the French championship to have their headquarters in France. The immediate retroactive effect of such a cancellation would have had disproportionate consequences, on the one hand disrupting preparation for next season and on the other questioning last season’s championship,” said the lawyer, which explains why the jurisdiction has deferred the cancellation to 1st October. Indispensable time for the LFP to reimburse ASM the 50 million euro, a priori set aside. And to devise new rules that satisfy everyone. But what are they?