After splashing over 130 million euros in their first season back in Ligue 1, Monaco have turned themselves into one of France’s strongest teams and have commanded Europe’s attention.
The signings of Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid (h/t ESPN FC) as well as James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho from Porto (h/t ESPN FC) captured the interest of Europe in a sensational early summer swoop.
However, Les Monegasques’ transfer policy has also produced some shrewd domestic-based investments.
The signing of French international Eric Abidal from Barcelona (h/t ESPN FC), a player who started his career at the Stade Louis II, is an impressive capture.
Although now 33 years old, with well-documented health issues (via ESPN FC), Abidal will provide vital experience and is also a player who has come through the ranks in the Principality.
Jeremy Toulalan is another such intelligent investment. The 29-year old arrives from Malaga (h/t ESPN FC) with a wealth of experience from his time with Nantes, Lyon and the French national team.
Young striker Anthony Martial (h/t ESPN FC) and defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin are purchases geared more towards the future.
So with such a seasoned team and a number of talented stars from last season’s Ligue 2 champions, does Claudio Ranieri’s group have what it takes to challenge established behemoth PSG for the title?
First and foremost, yes. Monaco are certainly a title threat to PSG; there is no way that a team boasting the likes of Falcao, Rodriguez and Moutinho could not be considered Championnat-winning material.
It would be foolish to completely rule out a side with the calibre of talent that the Principality outfit can now display on the pitch, but Monaco will also not be able to just immediately waltz to the title.
I cannot stress enough how competitive Ligue 1 is, especially for a team that has just been thrown together.
Aside from having to challenge French champions PSG in order to win the title, ASM are starting the season with a brand-new squad.
It is worth recalling the difficulties that the side from the capital had in the first season under their Qatar Sports Investments ownership in Le Championnat.
Despite lavish signings, such as Javier Pastore from Palermo (h/t ESPN FC), a coaching change mid-season from Antoine Kombouare to Carlo Ancelotti saw PSG eventually finish three points behind surprise winners Montpellier.
All of the signings made by Leonardo and the Italian could not produce free-flowing, efficient football, and the side from the capital struggled to win games convincingly.
Last season was a different matter, but that was because PSG added star talent in Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi to an already solid and well-drilled side that were familiar with each other.
Many of the current Monaco side have not yet played together in the French top-flight, and they are up against last season’s champions, who won the league by 12 points.
Not only that, but PSG also recently added Serie A top scorer Edinson Cavani to their squad and look set to splash further cash on Lille’s Lucas Digne (h/t ESPN FC) and Roma’s Marquinhos (h/t ESPN FC).
With last season’s Ligue 1 top scorer staying at PSG, according to President Nasser Al-Khelaifi (h/t ESPN FC), Monaco have a massive task on their hands despite the obvious talent that their new signings provide.
The fact that Digne favours PSG over Monaco is indicative of where the real power still lies.
Despite all of Les Monegasques’ new talent and affluence, the side from the capital are more advanced in their project and more complete.
Les Parisiens are primed for success now and in the immediate future, and that is something that will take Monaco at least two seasons to overcome fully.
ASM are better off targeting immediate Champions League qualification and domestic cup success to begin with.
Without continental competition, the team will quickly stagnate and shed the current collection of stellar talent. European football is necessary to progress and helped PSG push on to reach the next level last season.
Failure to do so will almost certainly damage the Principality side’s appeal going into next season, so that should be the main priority.
Of course, in doing so, a title challenge is not impossible.
But getting hung up on dislodging PSG from their dominant position would be a mistake for Ranieri’s new charges preseason.
Running before you can walk often trips you up.
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