The academy that molded Mbappé, Henry looks further afield for next star


AS Monaco, the club that produced generational domestic talents like Kylian Mbappé and Thierry Henry, have shifted philosophy and are now eying Latin America as the team looks to produce players who can meet the increasingly physical demands of modern soccer.

Monaco’s youth system has also produced the likes of Emmanuel Petit and David Trezeguet, who were part of the French team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, as well as fielding global stars such as Colombia’s Radamel Falcao and James Rodríguez, Liberian George Weah and German Juergen Kinsmann.

“France is itself a great source of talent, but we also have it in Spain and Portugal, which is an interesting market,” Monaco’s vice president Oleg Petrov told Efe.

“We have it in Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium and now also in Brazil,” he added.

Brazil, which exports more players than any other country, is the starting point of Monaco’s new approach to scouting in Latin America.

“We want to expand from there to other Latin American countries, where there is incredible talent. The idea is to train players and make big sales,” Petrov said.

He is the right-hand of Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, who acquired Monaco in 2011, when the club was on the verge of relegation to the third division.

Following a period of growth that saw the club make large investments to sign Falcao (43 million euros), James (45 million) and Joao Moutinho (25 million), the club has recently turned back to training and selling players.

The club has had a positive sale-purchase balance of nearly a billion euro since the 2011-2012 season.

That was possible thanks to major deals, such as the sales of Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy to Manchester City for 50 and 57.5 million euros, respectively; Kylian Mbappé to Paris Saint-Germain 180 million; and Thomas Lemar to Atletico Madrid for 72 million.

But as football becomes increasingly tactical and physical, the model of player that AS Monaco is looking to mould has changed.

For the past year and a half, Englishman Paul Mitchell has implemented a range of major changes at L’Academy, considered one of the best training centers in France.

“Everything that fell under performance we looked at, analysed or changed. We did a full review and we made changes in every major performance from a technical side,” Mitchell told Efe.

Mitchell’s goal is to create an environment where young players can develop into physically strong athletes who can withstand the intensity of the type of teams that press high up the pitch.

“We have to have an ambition to produce the best players. Development is a core part of our strategy,” Mitchell said.

The hope is that soon Monaco will be regularly producing young players who have the talent of stars in years gone by.

“It would be nice to receive another Kyllian Mbappe or Thierry Henry into the group in the next years. I think that has to be our ambition,” he said. EFE

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