In a press release, AS Monaco announced the creation of an “Elite Group,” which will see the club’s reserve side withdraw from the N2 and instead prioritise matches against elite European academies as well as senior, professional French sides.
In the face of considerable challenges facing many of Ligue 1’s reserve sides, Monaco have withdrawn theirs from the N2 in order to ensure the continued progression of their promising youth players, including their U19 side, which this year made the final of the U19 championship.
The competitiveness of the N2 division is driving an increasing number of teams to integrate fully-fledged senior professionals into their sides, naturally to the detriment of youth players, who see their playing opportunities diminished. These problems will be further exacerbated by a restructuring, which will see a reduction from five N2 groups to just three. This will exacerbate the drive to integrate more senior pros, with an obvious negative knock-on effect for the youth prospects.
Back in 2019, PSG dismantled completely their reserve side, and whilst Monaco are stopping well short of doing the same, they are nonetheless being proactive in reacting to the threat. In creating the “Elite Group,” they are adopting a new strategy, which they believe will aid the evolution of some of the club’s hottest prospects.
The group will encompass the age groups between U21 to U19 level and will be managed by Damien Perrinelle, who joined the club as an assistant coach back in 2020. Although very much a part of the first-team set-up, he has been a reference point for youth players and for integration into the senior side. In his new role with the “Elite Group,” the 38-year-old Frenchman will strengthen and reinforce the links not only between the academy and the first team but also partner club Cercle Brugge.
Monaco are a club that maintain a highly youth-oriented strategy, exemplified by the development of World Cup winners such as David Trezeguet, Thierry Henry, and more recently Kylian Mbappé (23), who have all passed through the club’s academy on their way to leading trophy-laden careers.
In order to ensure that the new generation have the same opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some of those greats, the side will this year compete in the Premier League International Cup, which comprises academy sides from the Premier League and other from elsewhere in Europe.
Speaking in the press release, director of youth development Pascal de Maesschalck said, “In the search for the best training path, this opportunity is the best way to develop the numerous connections in our ecosystem, and bring AS Monaco and Cercle Brugge even closer together.”
Sporting director Paul Mitchell added, “Through this new approach, the club hopes to continue to reinforce the impact on the first team, just as the 9 academy players, who have already made their professional debuts, already have in the past two seasons.”
Amidst the troubling context of worsening conditions for youth sides participating in the N2 and below, Monaco have taken an alternative path in order to safeguard the progression of their academy, which remains the cornerstone of the project at the Principality club.