The incredible XI Monaco sold for over €600 million
In 2004, Monaco was the runners-up in the UEFA Champions League final but in 2011, the club was relegated to the French second division. A few months after the relegation, Russia billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchased 66.67% of the club.
Using his funds, the club made a swift return to the Ligue 1 and spent roughly around £140 million in 2013 on players like Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez among others.
The following season, the club changed its transfer strategy and sold its superstars in favour building a team of promising youngsters. The aim was to sign promising players at a young age for a nominal fee and sell them for a huge profit after they’ve realised their potential.
In 2016/17, Monaco scored 107 goals, picked up 95 points and won the Ligue 1 title with an eight-point lead over big-hitters PSG. They even made the UEFA Champions League semifinal in the same season but their success came at a cost.
In the last two summers, Monaco sold almost the entire core of the team that won the league title. In recent years, Monaco has sold an entire starting XI worth of players for over €600 million!
Stephane Ruffier - Sold to Saint-Étienne for €8m in 2011
Stephane Ruffier is the only player in this XI who was sold before the takeover in 2011. Ruffier, a product of the Monaco academy, played 130 games for the club and was the club’s captain in his final season.
Ruffier was extraordinarily good in the 2009/10 season for Monaco and kept 15 clean sheets in 32 league games. His form in that season even earned him a call-up to the France national team.
He started the following season in excellent form. However, a groin injury ended his season prematurely and his absence eventually cost the club its Ligue 1 status as they finished 18th.
Ruffier had the opportunity to move to Manchester City in 2011 but he opted to join his current club, Saint-Etienne, as he believed the club would provide him with better playing opportunities.
Layvin Kurzawa - Sold to PSG for €23m in 2015
Layvin Kurzawa is another academy graduate of Monaco’s terribly underrated youth system to play for France at the senior level.
Kurzawa played 96 times for Monaco between 2010 and 2015 before joining rivals PSG for €23m. He has played 79 times for the Parisian club so far but he hasn’t established himself as the club’s first-choice left-back yet.
Incredibly, the 26-year-old has 11 goals and 14 assists for PSG already from the full-back position.
Benjamin Mendy - Sold to Manchester City for €57.5m in 2017
Monaco signed Benjamin Mendy as a replacement for Kurzawa in 2016 for €13m from Olympique Marseille.
The Frenchman was only with Monaco for one season but he played 39 games for them in all competitions, scored one goal and assisted eight more en route to winning the Ligue 1 and reaching the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League.
Mendy’s marauding runs down the left flank caught the eye of many clubs and it was Manchester City that signed him for a then world record fee for a defender. The €57.5m Man City paid for him is still the highest fee paid for a full-back and currently, the third highest fee paid for a defender behind Virgil van Dijk and Aymeric Laporte.
Honourable mentions - Rúben Vinagre (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Abdou Diallo Sold to Mainz for €5m in 2017
Unlike in the other outfield positions, we were not spoilt for choices in the centre-back department and that’s why Abdou Diallo, who was sold for only €5m makes the cut.
Diallo was a member of Monaco’s title-winning squad of 2016/17 but he only played five league games. In 2017, he was sold to Bundesliga club Mainz and after an impressive debut season in Germany, he was a target for many top European clubs including Arsenal. However, he opted to stay in Germany and join Borussia Dortmund for €28 million!
Fabinho - Sold to Liverpool for €50m in 2018
When Fabinho arrived at Monaco in 2013, he was a right-back and under Leonardo Jardim, he converted in a world-class defensive midfielder. However, because of a lack of better options in defence and also because he has played as a centre-back, the Brazilian makes the XI as a centre-back.
Fabinho joined Monaco on a two-year loan which was made permanent in 2015 for only €6m. In 2016/17, he played 56 games for Monaco and scored 12 goals to help his team win the league title.
He was Liverpool’s first summer signing of 2018 and the Reds forked out €50 million for the versatile player.
Honourable mentions - Nicolas Nkoulou (Torino), Aymen Abdennour (Olympique Lyon) and Terence Kongolo (Huddersfield Town)
Tiémoué Bakayoko - Sold to Chelsea for €40m in 2017
Tiémoué Bakayoko is one of the very few players who struggled at a new club after leaving Monaco for a hefty fee.
Bakayoko formed a devastating partnership with Fabinho in the heart of the Monaco midfield and their combined breakup play and positioning gave the forwards more freedom to wreak havoc.
After playing 92 times for Monaco, he was sold to Chelsea for €40m as a replacement for Nemanja Matic. He’s now on loan at Milan and the Serie A side has the option to sign him permanently for €35m next summer.
James Rodriguez - Sold to Real Madrid for €76m in 2014
James Rodriguez was one of Monaco’s big signings of 2013 after getting promoted and they paid €45 million to Porto for his services. In his only season with Monaco, James scored 10 goals and assisted 12 more in 38 games. He also topped the Ligue 1 assist table that season.
After his heroics at the 2014 FIFA World Cup which won him the tournament’s Golden Boot, his price shot up and Real Madrid paid €76m for him. Even today, it is the second highest fee Monaco has received for a player.
Bernardo Silva - Sold to Manchester City for €50m in 2017
Monaco’s scouts deserve a lot of credit for identifying top talent. When Monaco signed Bernardo Silva in 2014, he had only played thrice for Benfica’s senior team. However, they took him on loan initially before permanently signing him for €15.75m a few months later.
When Monaco won the league title in 2016/17, Silva scored eight goals and assisted nine more in 37 games. He was sold to Manchester City in 2017 for €50m but maybe, Monaco should have asked City for more money considering his form in England.
Honourable mentions - Yaya Toure (Free Agent), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Geoffrey Kondogbia (Valencia) and Joao Moutinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Kyllian Mbappe - Sold to PSG for €180m in 2017
Kylian Mbappe only turned 20-years-old a month ago but he has already achieved so much at a young age.
Mbappe’s breakthrough season was the 2016/17 season and he was crucial to Monaco’s success. In 44 games, he scored 26 goals and assisted eight more despite making only 29 starts! He even scored against Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in the Champions League to make headlines.
There was a huge queue for the player after the 16/17 season, but very few clubs could afford Monaco’s asking price. In the end, he was loaned out to PSG for a season with the obligation to buy him permanently for €145 million plus €35 million in add-ons in 2018.
Today, the World Cup winner is the most expensive teenager in the world and also the second most expensive player ever.
Anthony Martial - Sold to Manchester United for €51m in 2015
Before Kylian Mbappe’s record-breaking transfer to PSG in 2018, Anthony Martial was the most expensive teenager in the world following his €51m move to Manchester United in 2015.
Martial signed for Monaco in 2013 from Olympique Lyon for a €5m fee and he had already made his professional debut for Lyon.
He only played 70 games for Monaco and scored 15 goals but Manchester United was willing to spend €51m for him amidst widespread criticism. However, Martial has silenced his critics and has 45 goals in 159 games for United including 17 in his debut season.
Thomas Lemar - Sold to Atletico Madrid for €70m in 2018
Thomas Lemar is the seventh player in this XI from Monaco’s title-winning squad of 2016/17 but he opted to stay at Monaco for another season before leaving for Atletico Madrid in a €70m deal last summer.
Lemar joined Monaco from Caen in 2015 for only €4m and scored 22 times in 127 games for Monaco. In addition, he also has 25 assists for the club. The 16/17 season was the most prolific season of his club career as he racked up 14 goals and 14 assists in all competitions.
At Atletico Madrid, he hasn’t set the world on fire but there is enough evidence to show that he will do just fine.
Honourable mentions - Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Lucas Ocampos (Olympique Marseille), Valere Germain (Olympique Marseille) and Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce)