The Monaco model in perfect working order

AS Monaco signed Mamadou Coulibaly to his first professional contract last Thursday. The ink on the midfielder’s contract had barely dried before rumours of Aurélien Tchouaméni’s expected departure reached fever-pitch.

The concurrent but contrasting stories provide a perfect snapshot of a healthy club culture, which prioritises youth development, yielding both on-field and off-field benefits.

According to Foot Mercato, Monaco fended off interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs, including Manchester City and Atletico Madrid, in order to sign 18-year-old Coulibaly to a contract running until 2025.

Speaking in a press release, sporting director Paul Mitchell said, “The development of young talent in our academy is a priority in our sporting project… I would like to congratulate Mamadou for the work he has already done. Of course, there is still a long way to go and it’s up to him to continue to work even harder in order to pass the next stages of his progression.”

Whilst first-team opportunities in the short-term may be limited, there is every chance that he could fill Tchouaméni’s role. The French midfielder has once again excelled this year, and as we approach the final gameweeks before the end of the season, rumours about his reportedly probable departure are only intensifying.

During last Wednesday’s press conference, when asked about staying at the Principality side in order to aid them in another European adventure, Tchouaméni replied, “Yeah, why not? The elimination last year stuck in my throat. Playing Champions League football with Monaco isn’t something that would displease me.”

The French international’s contract runs until 2024, with an option for a further year, but just hours after the above declaration, RMC were reporting that he is indeed set on departing this summer.

According to their report on Thursday, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid are the favourites to land the much-coveted Monégasque talisman, although PSG haven’t given up on the idea of bringing him to the Parc des Princes. If he is to leave, he won’t do so on the cheap; a fee in excess of €50 million has previously been touted for the midfielder, a figure that could yet rise further, especially if a bidding war ensues.

Tchouaméni’s two goals in Friday’s win over Lille may have also added a few million to an already hefty price tag. Should he leave, his departure would be an archetypal example of AS Monaco: a club that provides a clear pathway for young players to break-through, develop, and often, eventually, leave.

Now a fully-fledged French international, coveted by Europe’s elite, Coulibaly would do well to follow in Tchouaméni’s footsteps, and he is in the right place to do it.



Photo by AS Monaco