As the curtain falls on another season across Europe, the transfer window opens and the rumours of who’s going where gather pace. Whilst a huge proportion of the stories you read regarding transfers never materialise in to even a bid, there are some rumours which actually are true and can even become a saga, with the move not being completed and finalised until the last few hours of the summer window.
Whilst the majority of Europe’s top clubs are expected to be very busy this summer, with clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester City, PSG and Barcelona all looking to strengthen their squads, Ligue 1 champions Monaco will be busier than most. With one of the most exciting, young squads in the world right now, almost every single player in the Monaco starting 11 which won the French League title and made it to the Champions League semi-finals have been linked with big-money moves away to some of Europe’s elite clubs.
Manchester City moved quickly to secure the signing of perhaps the most influential player in that Monaco side which swept nearly all before them away this season, by spending an estimated £43m on 22 year old Portuguese attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva. Silva, who scored and assisted 21 times in 60 games for Monaco this season, is widely regarded as one of the most gifted midfielders in Europe right now. This season, he played mostly on the right hand side of Monaco’s midfield, often drifting inside to dictate the play from a central position. This is something which City boss Pep Guardiola looks for his midfielders/wide players to do and in Bernardo, they have got one of the best players at it around.
Monaco moved quickly to replace Bernardo Silva, with Anderlecht midfielder Youri Tielemans signed to fill the considerable gap in the Monaco midfield which Silva left.
However, the incomings and outgoings at the Stade Louis II in Monaco will not stop there this summer. Who else will be targeted and will the side from the principality be able to keep hold of them for another year?
Kylian MBappe is the one in which all of the European heavyweight clubs have got their eyes on. With 26 goals in 45 games in his first ever senior season of Football, Monaco have got themselves an absolute superstar of the future in their ranks. At just 18 years old, Mbappe has ripped defences to shreds this season, with performances against Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund in the knockout stages of the Champions League, making everyone sit up and take notice of his ferocious potential and talent. It has been widely reported that Monaco have already turned down bids of €120m from both Real Madrid and Manchester city for the teenager and with the club showing absolutely no intention of wanting to sell him, it is going to have to take an absolutely extraordinary bid to prize him away from the French Champions this summer.
Fabinho, the Brazillian who can play at either right-back or defensive midfield, is another one of the players who will be most in demand this summer. Much like Mbappe and Bernardo Silva, it is Manchester City who have been linked with him the most, with a £40m bid being spoken about in the press as being enough to tempt him to the Etihad. Perhaps one of the more underrated (or under-appreciated?) players in this Monaco side, he played a crucial role in their League title win and Champions League run, showing incredible energy and excellent positional and tactical awareness to sniff out danger when teams tried to catch the ultra-attacking Monaco on the break. Once on Real Madrid’s books as a youngster, it is also possible that he could head back to the Bernabeu as well, but as each day passes, a move to Manchester is looking more and more likely.
Bernard Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Thomas Lemar are the other three players who all had stand-out seasons and are being linked with moves away from the club this summer, with Tottenham looking like the most likely destination for Lemar, who pulled the strings of the team in the midfield alongside Bernardo Silva. Bakayoko’s performances as the ball-winning midfielder who shielded the Monaco back 4 this season were praised by Journalists and fans everywhere and he has established himself as one of the finest defensive midfielders in Europe. Talk of a move to either PSG or Manchester United seems to be the most likely destination for him, should he decide to move, but the player himself has not given any indication recently as to whether a move away from the club is something he is looking for. The transfer talk of Bakayoko to Manchester United is certainly a move which I can see happening, especially when you look at the attributes which Bakayoko posesses, making him a perfect fit to replace an ageing Michael Carrick in the heart of that United midfield. Mourinho is known to be a big fan of the player himself, with United scouts seen at several Monaco games this season.
Whilst it is inevitible that bids will be received for a lot of the players I have written about this summer, whether Monaco decide to let them go is another matter. Chairman Dmitry Rybolovlev is a billionaire in his own right and the club’s CEO Vadim Vasilyev has come out and said to the media on multiple occasions that they are under no pressure whatsoever to sell any of their top assets, with Mbappe in particular not being for sale. Top French journalist Julien Laurens mentioned on the European Football Show a couple of weeks ago that although the club do not need to sell, it is predicted that “three or four” of the top players may go, but the club have got a contingency plan in place and have a shortlist already drawn up, should they need to replace anyone.
The decision to spend less on big names (Falcao, Moutinho etc) and invest more in developing and coaching young, homegrown talent is now starting to reward the club in a big way and fans of the club will hope that this current crop of supremely talented players is just the start of a Golden Generation for Les Monégasques. PSG may finally have some proper competition in Ligue 1 in the next few years.