Interview | Pascal De Maesschalck: “It’s in our DNA to give young players a chance to play”

In an interview with Monaco Life, AS Monaco’s Director of Youth Development Pascal De Maesschalck reveals that the club’s “no closed doors policy” is the key to its successful youth-oriented strategy. 

Hired in the summer of 2021, De Maesschalck is an indispensable link in the chain, ensuring a pathway for youth players to move from the Principality club’s academy,  into the first-team.

The spotlight is once again on Monaco’s academy. Having developed the likes of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, and more recently Kylian Mbappé, there is a new generation of youth bursting through the doors of the professional side.

Eliesse Ben Seghir is the most recognised of this new cohort of graduates, but the likes of Soungoutou Magassa have also made a name for themselves when offered their debut by manager Philippe Clement.

In the search for Monaco’s secret to youth development success, for De Maesschalck, there is only one place to start. It all starts with good recruitment. You can’t have success without good players,” began the Belgian.

He continued, “That’s the work of our team of recruiters. In France it is a global system of trying to get players from the age of 10, 13, 14 to sign agreements. That gives you three years to work with them: from the age of 15 until the age of 18. We have a very good team of coaches from U17-level. It’s part of the DNA of Monaco to have a policy to do everything that is necessary to produce the talent, that’s the factory part of it, but it starts with recruitment,” he continued.

The recent creation of the Elite Groupe is a major facet of Monaco’s recent success in integrating young players into the first-team. In a recent interview with Monaco Life, sporting director Paul Mitchell attributed Ben Seghir’s breakthrough to the creation of the side, which participates against English academies in the Premier League International Cup.

Relative to last year, De Maesschalck is already seeing a difference, which he attributes to entry into the competition. “It is important to integrate into other contexts, like playing against Premier League academies. If you play against Manchester United at Old Trafford in front of 10,000 people, it’s a challenge, a different type of pressure. It wasn’t something we could create last year. The experience is a thrill that motivates players even more and it is this aspect where I see a huge difference compared to last year,” he said. 

However, for De Maesschalck, the true source of success transcends the structure, and encompasses a wider, institution-wide ideology.

“What we do well is creating the connection. There are no doors closed to the first team. It is the installation of a political philosophy. I sit down with the management biweekly and we discuss many topics, including about the talent,” he began.

“Our directors and management try to watch the games live, so they see the evolution. The players are so well known because there are no barriers, no closed doors. You watch the players train, you watch them play, you watch the feedback and you see an evolution. The feedback is daily. Everyone at Monaco knows that young players are part of our future, and they always will be. It is so natural here. The process is very fluid,” he continued.

The transparency in the club creates what De Maesschalck described as a “unique environment”, one in which youth flourishes. As a Director of Youth Development, De Maesschalck is always looking towards the future, and at Monaco, he believes that future is bright.

I am convinced that here it was possible to work with young players and they can become successful in the first-team. I believe in a few years, we will be playing four or five academy players in the Monaco first-team,” he said. Given that two academy products have already made their professional debuts this year, that prediction doesn’t seem at all far-fetched. 


Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter. For the latest news, follow us onFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo by AS Monaco


Last-minute cancellation for Tour de La Provence

The Tour de La Provence, initially scheduled set to take place at the start of February, is a shock omission from the 2023 UCI calendar. 

Organisers were gearing up for the event, which was scheduled to take place between 9th and 12th February, however, they have been stopped in their tracks.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) calendar was released on Tuesday, and to the surprise of many, the Tour de La Provence, created by local newspaper La Provence, didn’t feature.

The Fédération Française de Cyclisme has released a statement confirming that the event will not take place as planned due to certain legal conditions to register the event having only been partially completed. The Tour de La Provence official Twitter account expressed their “regret” and are looking at any action that could be taken in response to the last-minute cancellation.

The organiser of the event, Pierre-Maurice Courtade said in an interview with AFP that he was “a bit shocked” by the decision.

The rest of the 2023 UCI calendar has been approved by the Council.


Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Photo by Anthospace

Artist Luiza Ansay unveils new collection

Polish-born artist, actress and model Luiza Ansay, who now lives in Monaco, has opened her latest exhibition at the Gabarino Interior Design atelier with a decidedly eastern flair.   

The exhibit, entitled ‘Japonisme de Luiza’ features her bold and unique style in a range of pieces inspired by the Japanese art movement. Her use of new techniques and mixed media have created an inspired collection that a select group of guests were recently able to enjoy.  

“I am thrilled to be debuting my work in Monaco and to have the opportunity to introduce my art to new audience,” said Ansay. “I put a lot of time and effort into creating these pieces, and it is satisfying to see them appreciated in this way.”  

Her show was an exclusive event attended by invitation only, but those interested in her work can contact her on Instagram or via Johanna Antonucci on +33 672 85 95 49.   

Ansay has been on the international art scene for nearly two decades, and her art is “an example of the process of transformation”, where she uses her mind’s eye to reproduce her subjects.   


Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Photo source: Luiza Ansay/Gabarino Interior Design

Uber drivers given pay hike after deal with unions

France’s Uber drivers are getting a 27% pay rise per ride and worker status after the government and unions came to an agreement this week, setting a precedent and giving the same rights to similar taxi and delivery apps countrywide. 

The agreement, signed on Wednesday 18th January and going into effect at the start of February, will ensure that so-called taxi app drivers will now charge a minimum price per ride of €10.20 gross, or €7.65 net, according to a statement put out by Uber.  

The agreement was reached with French unions CFTC and UNSA, and professional associations AVF and FNAE, and will apply to all taxi apps in France, including Bolt and FreeNow, a joint venture between BMW and the Mercedes-Benz Group. 

“It’s the first agreement of this kind in France” said Yassine Bensaci, a representative from AVF, who has been working as a taxi app driver since 2014, though he tempered the statement by adding, “It’s just the first step, as talks are going on other matters.” 

This outcome stems from a desire by the government to regularise the status of these drivers, who have been at war with traditional taxi drivers for years, as well as to allow the mainly self-employed pool of taxi app workers to better integrate into the French social security system, where they will now have the costs and benefits of other French employees. 

President Emmanuel Macron has been an advocate of these apps for creating jobs, notably in areas where unemployment is high.  


Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Photo source: Paul Hanaoka for Unsplash

Roca Team knocked off Euroleague summit

AS Monaco Basketball took Fenerbahçe to overtime at their home court in Istanbul on Thursday before eventually losing 98-94 as well as their top spot in the Euroleague. 

Only one win separated the sides going into the match, and it showed on the court. There was very little between the sides, momentum could easily switch, and neither side managed to grow a definitive advantage. 

In typical Roca Team style, the team’s advantage was wiped away in a lax third quarter. All too often are Sasa Obradovic’s men found lacking in intensity on the return from the changing rooms, and against Fenerbahçe, it proved costly. 

Monaco were reliant on the efforts of Mike James (23 points) and captain Yakuba Ouattara (19 points) to rescue the situation in the fourth quarter. Eight points down with the seconds ticking down, both stepped up as Monaco registered an unreplied eight-point streak (84-84) to take the game to overtime. 

But Obradovic’s men didn’t make the most of their second life. James kept Monaco within striking distance, but it wasn’t enough, as they failed to manage the important moments of the match that fell the wrong way as far as Les Monégasques are concerned. 

“There was really nothing in it. The small details matter in this kind of match. It’s difficult to take,” said Ouattara post-match.

Monaco have the chance to touch the summit of the Euroleague once more when they welcome Milan on Thursday. 

Elie Okobo sees Roca Team to victory in Betclic Elite

Monaco registered their fourth consecutive victory in the Betclic Elite with a narrow win against Nancy on Sunday. Without James, the Roca Team trailed for the vast majority of the match after conceding a 10-0 in the opening quarter.

However, inspired by Okobo (19 points), who scored 12 points in the final quarter, Obradovic’s men secured the victory (83-79), which consolidates their position as outright leader in the French domestic division.

Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo by AS Monaco Basket

Luxury real estate is booming in the Alps

Property in Alpine ski resorts is experiencing the fastest price rise in nearly a decade, but emerging trends show buyers want more than just a rentable investment with good access to the slopes.

Buyers in the most expensive and well-known resorts of the French and Swiss Alps are looking for more than simply another tool in their investment portfolio, according to a new report from Knight Frank.  

“One in four ski home buyers are now seeking either a second home or co-primary property entirely for their own personal use, with no plans to rent their property,” says Kate Everett-Allan from Knight Frank. “A move to hybrid working, a rekindled love of the great outdoors and heightened interest in wellbeing [has] boosted demand. We knew the pandemic had influenced buyer priorities, but the premium now attached to mountain views, fast broadband and outdoor space looks to be significant.” 

Close proximity to a major airport is also high on the list for buyers, who want to be able to visit their home-from-home at a moment’s notice, whatever the time of year. 30% said a travel time of less than one and a half hours was imperative, while a further 31% said they would be willing to drive up to three hours from an airport to their property. 

“Byers are better informed than ever before, in terms of pricing dynamics, market risks and opportunities as well as futureproofing their purchase,” reads the report, acknowledging the looming issues of climate change and its impact of reliable snowfall as clear factors to consider for investors. “Sustainability and climate change are on the minds of ski home purchasers with the energy efficiency of their future ski home a priority for 54%. Plus, buyers are looking closely at the overall resilience of a ski resort, the investment plans and future snow provision.” 

One in four say they are looking for a year-round resort with a broad mix of ski and non-ski activities. In France, the two Portes de Soleil resorts of Les Gets and Morzine – both offering access to some of the best mountain biking trails in the world come the warmer months as well as proximity to Geneva airport – lead the French rankings for price increases, with 11% and 9% respectively.  

Overall, Swiss resorts top the table for the highest levels of price growth, with Crans-Montana and Saint Moritz showing an annual increase of 14% between 2021 and 2022. Verbier comes in third, with an 8% hike and a large volume of sales, primarily driven by UK and US-based buyers. 

Switzerland also dominates the price per-square-metre rankings: in Gstaad, it is over €37,000 per square metre while Saint Moritz comes in at €28,266 and Verbier at €27,757. Courchevel 1850 on the French side is close behind at €27,200. 

In the 23 resorts tracked by Knight Frank, the average price of a four-bedroom chalet in the Alpine region increased by 5.8% between June 2021 and June 2022, up 4.6% from the previous period. Over the course of the Covid pandemic, prime prices rose on average by almost 14%.  

However, this is expected to slow in 2023.  

“Low interest rates have allowed easy borrowing for more than a decade,” says Everett-Allen, “but a new landscape beckons as mortgage costs and energy prices ramp up. That’s not to say we expect prices to fall… But after three stellar years, the economic headwinds will start to weigh on buyer sentiment in the Alps and globally, prompting the rate of annual price growth to slow.”  


Sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Photo source: Juliette G. for Unsplash