Following the unfortunate events that occurred in Germany on April 11th, Borussia Dortmund took the field on Wednesday to welcome the most exciting young collection of talent the world has to offer in the form of Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club, better known as AS Monaco.
The UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal draw saw Monaco take a 3-2 advantage in the first leg behind 2 goals from 18, yes e-i-g-h-t-e-e-n, year-old Kylian Mbappe, one of Europe’s most sought after players. Including this absolute beauty:
But, unfortunately a team that features 4 players in Sportsmail’s 50 best young players in European football and leads Ligue 1 by 3 points over powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, may only have one match left for eyes on this side of the pond.
And for the less savvy soccer fans out there I have the ultimate beginners guide to skills and promise – obviously the FIFA 17 ratings and potential, here’s a look at Monaco’s notable Under-25s:
Now, in actual reality this team is goddamn electric factory. Attackers that track back and hound teams as they try to advance the ball and in the process set up a devastating counter attack start the action.
And they aren’t just opportunistic, they are a legitimate offensive juggernaut with individual athletes on the outside and combination of defensive stalwarts and creative maestros occupying the midfield that funnel play into the aforementioned Mbappe and the nearly forgotten Premier League flop, Radamel Falcao.
Exactly how prolific is this team? They’ve scored 88 goals in Ligue 1 and amassed a goal differential of +62, Chelsea, the presumptive Premier League Champions, have scored just 65 goals in total.
*If Chelsea now blows the Premier League I’ll be live blogging my diabetes induced suicide at the Fulham Broadway tube station Krispy Kreme.
*And yes I realize that Ligue 1, for lack of a better term, is booty in comparison to the EPL, so take those stats with a grain of salt.
So, why is Wednesday April 19th perhaps the last chance to see this show in action?
Because the team owned by a Russian billionaire worth $7.7bn that plays in the tiny principality home to the world’s highest GDP nominal per capita is about to be picked clean by Europe’s elite teams.
This current iteration of AS Monaco that we have fallen in love with won’t survive the summer, it is now or never.
One of the best things about world soccer is the gossip rag nature of transfer rumors, every single day you can find some outlet linking some player to your favorite team and these “stories” have been littered with Monaco players for months.
A cursory search today for Monaco’s crown jewel players yields results tying Kylian Mbappe to not only Manchester United, but also Arsenal, Chelsea, and Real Madrid accompanied by a whopping price tag of £130m.
Midfield sensation Bernardo Silva has been linked to Chelsea for what seems like years and steam has picked up stating him as a target for Manchester United and Real Madrid as well with an an estimated transfer fee of approximately £70m.
That’s £270m (~$388m), over a quarter of a billion pounds, before we even get into the value of the highly sought after Fabinho as well as winger Thomas Lemar and right-back, Djibril Sidibé.
And while these exuberant fees likely mean some of the team’s current players will be around for another campaign, maybe even two, there’s little to no chance this current high-powered attacking iteration will remain in tact.
At best, it will be a shell of itself with a vague resemblance of a team that was this time next year.
And while this team has been rolling on all cylinders to the tune of 103 goals between Ligue 1 and Champions League they have quite a bit of luck on their side, a historical amount to be precise.
Their goal scoring prowess has exceeded expected goals by 33, which according Michael Caley over at FiveThirtyEight, makes them the first team to beat expected goals by more than 20 since 2010-11. So, in short, the kids from the French Riviera have been playing with some of that Monte Carlo house money for some time now.
So, unless they advance to the semi-final stage (FiveThirtyEight only gives them a 40% chance to do so) you may not have the opportunity to see many of these players share the same uniform again until the World Cup.
Many of them will be dawning the kit of France in 2018, 2022 and beyond and if you’re a betting man (or woman) I’d consider laying down a few dollars on the Les Bleus to hoist the trophy is either Russia, Qatar, or dare I say, both.
But, for the time being relish the opportunity to watch a collection of players and a team that will be looked back at as the beginning of the ascendence of some the world’s greatest players, who will play for the world’s most historic clubs sooner than you think.
While it hurts me to root against the great American hope in Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic, we all need to the opportunity to watch this Monaco team, at minimum, two more times.
Allons-y Les Rouges et Blancs!
Also, make sure to peep Tom Payne’s article over at the Ringer, he breaks down the why this Dortmund v. Monaco matchup is so awesome and I also swiped some video from him and he does very fascinating stuff in general, so go read it!
Two Buttons Deep is a news & entertainment website based in upstate New York.
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