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Newly crowned champions of France: What next for Monaco?

Saturday 20th May 2017
Leonardo Jardim finally reached the pinnacle of French football after leading Monaco to their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years. Undoubtedly, the Principality club have been the best team in the country this season and deserved to be crowned champions. But what should they expect in the future?
Monaco's cruise to the title is one that will certainly remain in our minds for many years to come. Like a magician, Jardim mysteriously transformed an inexperienced bunch into one of Europe's most entertaining sides. His lads showcased a hedonistic brand of attacking football; it is so good that more often than not, the opposition subconsciously finds themselves cheering them.

"Like a spectator, it is so nice to see them (Monaco). I am really impressed how good they are – physical, strong. It is the most successful team in Europe in terms of scoring goals." - Manchester City coach, Pep Guardiola.

Indeed, Monaco has simply been unstoppable in front of goal. Led by their inspirational skipper, Radamel Falcao and emerging youngster, Kylian Mbappe, the Reds and Whites have notched an unbelievable 155 goals in all competitions this season. With that, they've successfully managed to overturn the hegemony Paris Saint-Germain had on French football.
"Winning the title with a team that is not the favourite is a great trophy," Jardim said after securing the Ligue 1 title late Wednesday. "Monaco as champion is worth four times PSG as champion. When PSG wins, it's normal, but Monaco ..."

But it hasn't always been this good for the Portuguese tactician. For the last few years, Jardim was criticised for producing a defensive style of play - evidently is the fact that Monaco are currently just four goals shy of equalling their combined tally for the last two seasons. Not only is the 42-year-old's self-reinvention doing wonders, but the obvious tweak on the club's philosophy is also a major factor.

Now the Monaco manager and his players are in the sights of almost every side in Europe. And there's every likelihood they could get picked apart over the summer. It's unfortunate, yet inevitable; the consequence of a smaller side winning the title. Keeping Jardim, who himself was the subject of a stratospheric offer from China, could prove decisive.

"I hope Jardim stays," Monaco vice-president, Vadim Vasilyev, prayed. "He's the perfect coach for our project and I have a lot of esteem for him. We are very close. Of course, there will be offers made to him."

Not just Jardim, nearly all of Monaco's first team players have been linked with a summer exit - highlighting the surmounting task awaiting the owners. Even Vasilyev, who stated the club will "do everything we can to keep as many players as possible", believes that "of course there will be some departures". So where do Monaco go from here?

Even without the obvious exit of some key players, Monaco could capitulate next season. Complacency on the part of the manager and players might see the Principality club slip shamefully. Furthermore, teams will come firing at them next term. The opposition could come up with an antidote to Monaco's attacking style and consequently aim to frustrate them. To add to that, the newly crowned French champions have never been good at defending the Ligue 1 title. Every time they clinch the league, they seem to go backwards in subsequent seasons. In fact, the average waiting time between each of their eight titles is around seven years. So we won't be too surprised if history repeats itself.

However, something special is happening at the Stade Louis II. So expect Monaco to still challenge for the title next season no matter what happens over the summer.  
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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