This is how it ends, then. Monaco’s glorious money-spinning project, so potent and so impressive for the better part of four seasons under Leonardo Jardim, went through one too many rotations and now the manager has left the club by mutual consent. The results – with no wins in their last 10 games – weren’t pretty, but Monaco are in this position because they were short-termist, they over-reached in the transfer market and they alienated their key players. Jardim’s career before joining Monaco was an itinerant one. He spent single seasons at Braga, Olympiacos and Sporting Clube de Portugal before being appointed to succeed Claudio Ranieri in June 2014. Little was expected of Monaco in Jardim’s first season in charge. Owner Dmitry Rybolovlev’s finances had changed to the extent where the club’s flagship signings, James Rodríguez and Radamel Falcao, were moved on – Rodríguez to Real Madrid for €80m and Falcao on loan to Manchester United to take him off the wage bill – and this process of exporting players for big fees has continued under Jardim. Over the last four seasons, the club have brought in more than €750m from selling players. When Jardim arrived at the club, he was thought of as a prosaic manager. Indeed, in his first season in charge, Monaco had the tightest defence in Ligue 1. They scored fewer goals than 13th-place Caen but still managed to finish third in Ligue 1, pipping Marseille and Saint-Étienne to the final Champions League spot. They also impressed in Europe in Jardim’s debut season, winning their Champions League group, beating Arsenal in the round of 16 and only losing in the quarter-finals to eventual finalists Juventus by a single goal. That version of Monaco was defensively sound and relied on the pace and inventiveness of Bernardo Silva, Yannick Carrasco and Anthony Martial in attack. That trio scored nearly half of Monaco’s goals, with scant support from their defensively sound midfield in a 4-3-3. After the sales of Martial, Carrasco, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Layvin Kurzawa in the summer of 2015, Jardim patched the team together for the new season by bringing players in on loan. With senior pros such as Ricardo Carvalho and Jérémy Toulalan another year older, the once-impregnable defence was far less reliable. Qualification for the Champions League was secured again, but this was more down to the lack of quality in the chasing pack than to any real achievement from Monaco. There were, however, some green shoots in the form of Thomas Lemar, Almamy Touré, Tiemoué Bakayoko and Kylian Mbappé, who were all starting to flourish in increased roles. The following season, 2016-17, Monaco won the Ligue 1 title and made it all the way to the Champions League semi-finals. They were the team of the moment in Europe, but it should be noted that they went into that campaign after the one summer in recent years when they have made an effort to strengthen in a balanced way. Naturally, they signed some intriguing young prospects (Youss

Leave a Reply

Notify of