Updated: Jan 17
AS Monaco FC, the breakout team in 2016-17 that Ajax so closely resembled two seasons ago. With a Ligue 1 title over the mainstay Paris Saint Germain team, reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, and being runners-up in the Coupe de la Ligue for good measure, the squad from southern France overperformed greatly, and it was fun to watch. For perspective, they didn't make it out of the group stage in the Europa League the season before. With finishing dead last in the group stage of the Champions League in 17/18, it was clear to see that the success of this year was special. Like all good, small teams that overperform, almost every semi-decent player in their roster got bought up by the big clubs for big money the years following. Here is a look at where they all are now:
Undeniably the best and most high-profile player to come out of the 16/17 Monaco team is Kylian Mbappé. The, then, 17-year-old wonderkid striker burst onto the stage, especially in the Champions League, scoring important goals against Manchester City, and, most importantly, three goals against Borussia Dortmund to knock them out of the tournament. As the top prospect in football after the season, Mbappé earned his move to Paris Saint Germain for €180 million and became the second-most expensive player and most expensive teenager in football history. He still owns a legendary celebration, as seen to the left.
Possibly the most energetic and humorous footballers around right now, Benjamin Mendy was swinging in dangerous crosses and containing any winger in Europe the season they almost won it all. Mendy, the French left-back, tallied 11 assists and a single goal across all competitions. The biggest factor to his success is his strong frame and relentless energy, accompanied by the skill to pick out crosses with great whip. Mendy also put pen to paper, agreeing to a deal with Manchester City for £52 million. Riddled with injuries, Mendy has found it hard to maintain a significant run of games with the Cityzens.
A small figure, but largely influential player. Bernardo Silva was one of the more underrated players for how well he did that season. Silva bagged 11 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, gaining elite company with those few players that manage to go double-digits in two departments in one season. His skillful dribbles and vision for intelligent passes opened up copious amounts of space for Mbappé and Falcao to run into and cause damage. Bernardo joined David as a Silva duo at Manchester City for €50 million after departing in the summer of 2017.
With the task of guarding the backline, Bakayoko did superbly well at allowing the talented Monaco attack to work their magic at full force. Standing at 6'2", Bakayoko became an expert at reading and intercepting the opposition's play. As he was only 22 years old, many clubs saw him as the next best defensive midfielder in Europe. After a move to Chelsea in the summer of 2017 for £40 million, not everything turned out as he hoped. Many subpar performances and a falling out with the manager left him non-existent in the London Blue's team. Since then, Bakayoko has found playing time in the Serie A on loan with AC Milan and S. S. C. Napoli.
Serg Stallone - Wikimedia
Similar to the role of Bakayko, Fabinho and the Frenchman anchored the midfield and provided a towering presence due to both players' 6 ft+ height. A statistic that might seem odd is that he recorded 12 goals and 6 assists in all competitions from a deep-lying, defensive midfielder role. The reasoning behind this is that he was the designated penalty-kick taker, and a good one at that. Fabinho, unlike a majority of the other players, stayed one more year in the south of France before offloading to Liverpool in 2018 for a reported £39 million. He remains a key player in the Red's team that won the Champions League and Premier League title. He finds himself playing center-back at the moment, due to the injury crisis at Liverpool.
Possibly the most versatile player of that season was Thomas Lemar. With his ability to play on both wings, in the center of the park, and even false-nine, Lemar was constantly involved in the play. Similar to Bernardo Silva, Lemar had a duo of double-digit points in goals and assists. Along with Fabinho, Lemar stayed for a year after their famous season before signing for €70 million for Atlético Madrid. Sadly for Thomas, his move to Spain hasn't been what he hoped for. Most shockingly, in the 19/20 season, he blanked in both goals and assists, leaving no statistical imprint on the team. This season, he is off to a better start with a pair of goals and assists, hoping to resurrect his form.
His experience and pedigree, no doubt, shaped this team's mentality and progression. After proving himself in multiple leagues, Falcao moved to France to take up the captain's armband and lead Monaco. He did just that by proving to be a great sidekick with the young, sparky Mbappé. By scoring a hefty 30 goals in the 16/17 season, many critics who called him too old or washed-up were left stunned. After his contract expired in 2019, he left for Galatasaray. With age not on his side anymore, he persists and plays regular football while keeping a respectable goalscoring record.
There were many other influential players that I didn't explicitly mention, but the whole team was a wonder to watch. The likes of Danijel Subašić and Djibril Sidibé have stuck around and become Monaco legends, while the center-back leader of their 2016-17 team Kamil Glik has recently left to Serie A side Benevento this past summer.