Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.
While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.
With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.
Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.
Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.
The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.
At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.
Kylian Mbappe is one of the hottest transfer targets in recent memory, if not ever.
And yet, there’s now significant noise that he could actually stay at his current club, despite world record offers and massive contracts on the table.
According to a report in French tabloid Le Journal du Dimanche, AS Monaco has offered the 18-year-old star a huge new contract in the hopes they can keep him at least another year.
The report says the offer on the table from Monaco features a $181,000 per week salary, which translates to about $9 million a year. That would leave Mbappe even with strike partner Falcao’s earnings.
Staying with Monaco would clearly net Mbappe an immediate pay raise and keep him at a club that clearly values his minutes on the pitch. However, there’s still a serious drawback. With the club having sold a number of other assets vital to their Champions League semifinal run such as Bernardo Silva plus others like Benjamin Mendy, Thomas Lemar, and Tiemoue Bakayoko soon to leave, it’s unlikely the club can repeat its success of last year that saw Mbappe leap onto the world stage.
It’s also possible that reports of a new contract offer were leaked to give interested clubs a sense of urgency and potentially drive up Mbappe’s price. Reports all over Europe suggest that Real Madrid has already seen a world record $145 million offer rejected, and Monaco could be playing for more. With Arsenal also reportedly in the mix, the sharks circling could be alerted by this leak.
Monaco took its 3-2 first-leg advantage and stormed into the Champions League semifinals with a 3-1 home second-leg win over Borussia Dortmund.
Kylian Mbappe scored the opener very early on, and Falcao also struck before the 20 minute mark to send Monaco well through.
Just three minutes into the match, Benjamin Mendy burst forwards cutting inside from the left flank, and he rifled a shot on goal. It was straight at Roman Burki, but powerful enough that the German could only parry the shot. The rebound fell straight to two streaking Monaco attackers, and it was Mbappe who struck a shot off Burki’s hands and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The goal makes Mbappe the first player in Champions League history to score in his first four knockout game appearances.
Then, in the 17th minute, Falcao headed in from a wonderful Thomas Lemar delivery, and Monaco was well and truly through.
With Dortmund down big, manager Thomas Tuchel brought on Ousmane Dembele in the 27th minute. Tuchel had come under fire for not starting either Dembele or Christian Pulisic. Nuri Sahin hit the post with a brilliant free-kick in the 14th minute, the best chance Dortmund had in the first half, and they would find a response soon after the halftime break.
Dembele was the creator as Dortmund hit back, finding a tiny window of opportunity on a pull-back to Marco Reus in the 51st minute as the German club made it 2-1. They still needed two more goals, however, to force extra time, and the mountain was too much to climb. Tuchel brought on Pulisic with 18 minutes to go, but he was powerless to change the tide. With 10 minutes to go, Valere Germain scored Monaco’s third to put the game to bed, and sending the aggregate score to 6-3. The goal means Monaco become the first team in Champions League history to score at least three goals in four straight knockout games.
CHARLOTTE, NC — Chelsea looked somewhat sluggish for the second straight friendly as players return to the first-team squad and look to get their bodies and minds ready for the upcoming Premier League season.
One man who doesn’t need any acclimating is manager Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese boss was lively as ever following the match, showing he’s always ready for football.
When asked what PSG did to keep Chelsea under control in the opening 45 minutes, Mourinho blamed their lack of matches for being a step behind, saying the French champions had four preseason friendlies to get ready whereas Chelsea were just beginning their preparations. The very next question asked Mourinho about Radamel Falcao, and the Blues boss praised his new signing who came on for the last 20 minutes, saying he had fresh legs that helped him be influential. Those two things seem to contradict each other, Mr. Mourinho…
He was asked about his experiences so far in the United States, and while he agreed this country is growing very quickly as a soccer nation, he went about his answer by referencing how many people recognize him out in public. “I come here just about every year for the past 11 years in preseason. 10 years ago when my players and I walked down the streets, it was paradise. Now, it’s not paradise anymore.”
Finally, a British journalist began a question by asking Mourinho about some “interesting challenges” that Diego Costa – known for his physical play – made, including one in the very first minute when he bowled over Gregory Van Der Wiel. The 52-year-old cut off the poor questioner by angrily turning the prompt on its head, “It wasn’t Diego, it was [PSG winger Serge] Aurier who made the…what do you call them? ‘Interesting challenges?’ Ask me about Aurier and I’ll answer.” He forced the journalist to ask him about Aurier instead of Costa, before finally answering the question with, “The French player played the match today like it was not a friendly but a big game for him. But that’s ok because I understand that this is football.”
Chelsea may still be working towards full fitness and game readiness, but one thing is for certain, its ace in the hole is already in top form, and that spells doom for the rest of England’s top flight.
With Porto confirming that striker Jackson Martinez is gearing up to join AC Milan in a shock transfer move, many are surprised enough he turned down a number of clubs qualified for Champions League play to instead make the switch to Italy.
But there’s a wrinkle to the story making things much more interesting.
According to a report in Italian media outlet Gazzetta dello Sport, the 28-year-old was advised by fellow Colombian Falcao not to go to Manchester City, who were reportedly heavily interested in bringing Martinez to the Etihad and could offer him a higher salary than AC Milan.
But Falcao, who struggled in a loan move to Manchester United, told Martinez that moving to Manchester isn’t worth the extra money, and that he should make the switch to Italy instead. London club Arsenal was also rumored to be involved.
“Before going on holiday Jackson announced he wanted to leave,” Porto president Pinto da Costa told Portuguese media on Friday. “The €35m [release] clause is not up for debate and must be paid. I learned just now that Jackson has chosen Milan. This is what he wants, the destination is irrelevant as far as I am concerned. I want him to be happy.”
Martinez was one of the most sought-after players this summer after scoring 21 goals in 30 league matches for Porto this past season, and bagging 32 in 42 across all competitions including seven in eight Champions League appearances. He was under contract with Porto through the summer of 2017, but that $39 million release clause had many teams salivating.