AS Monaco have taken the world by storm this season, outscoring every other team in Europe’s top 5 leagues and producing some of the most eye-catching play world football has to offer, all with an impressively young side.
Setting up in a fluid 442 formation, Leonardo Jardim’s youthful side have developed into an expansive and dynamic unit, where players are encouraged to express their technical brilliance and youthful exuberance in the attack while returning to a regimented defensive shape when out of possession.
Over the years, Monaco has developed some incredible talent with the likes of Thierry Henry, Anthony Martial and Geoffrey Kondogbia at the French club from a young age.
This season is no different, with talents such as Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Tiemoué Bakayoko amongst others excelling in the first team squad.
Tiemoué Bakayoko is a 22-year-old French central midfielder, who’s box to box style and physical capabilities have made the media liken him to Patrick Viera. The Combative defensive midfielder is a tenacious and skilled tackler as well as dominating battles in the air. Furthermore, the Frenchman is a powerful dribbler who uses his strength and size to beat opponents and instigate attacks; completing 68% of his 62 attempted take on this season. However, he seldom loses possession due to his selfless approach and broad passing range.
Alongside Bakayoko is Brazilian defensive midfielder Fabinho. The 23-year-old who Monaco originally signed from Real Madrid is a traditional full back, however, he has excelled in the central position and is a vital string to Monaco’s bow. Fabinho provides defensive solidity and is imperative when covering wide areas left by the attacking full-backs when the opposition are looking to break quickly. Moreover, his exceptional awareness of space and pressure from his opponents means that he is rarely dispossessed and moves the ball quickly and effectively.
Bernardo Silva is arguably Monaco’s most complete young talent, due to his technical genius, exceptional football brain, and industrious defensive work rate. The Portuguese winger is a skillful dribbler and excels when drifting off of the right wing into attacking midfield, where he uses his brilliant vision and passing as well as shooting ability to directly contribute to goals; scoring 9 and assisting 5 so far this season. Furthermore, the 22-year-old’s attitude is second to none, shown by his diligent defensive work rate when Monaco are out of possession and his selfless play in the final third.
Heralded as the next Henry, 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe has raised the eyebrows of many top clubs as a result of his astonishing form for Monaco this season. The Frenchman has scored 11 and assisted 5 in only 743 minutes of football so far this term, with defenders unable to handle his lightning fast speed and pinpoint finishing. The centre-forward who can also play on both wings has been earmarked as one of the best young talents in world football, however, there are still facets of the game which could be improved, notably his overall defensive contribution, as he has averaged the lowest defensive contributions per game in the Monaco squad this season. Yet, if he is given consistent game time and his attitude stays positive he will certainly have an illustrious career.
On the opposite wing to Silva is 21-year-old Thomas Lemar. The French starlet has scored 10 and assisted 6 in 32 appearances so far this season, with his direct dribbling and rapid pace dumbfounding opposition defenders and his composed and instinctive finishing leaving goalkeepers helpless. Moreover, the winger is a set piece specialist with dependable corner and indirect free kick delivery as well as outstanding direct free kicks. The French international’s link up plays and passing when drifting centrally from the left wing have contributed massively to Monaco’s exceptional goal record so far this term.