FEATURE | Monaco’s La Diagonale academy shines for France U19s

The latest graduates of AS Monaco’s famous La Diagonale academy were on full display with the France U19 side during the recent international break. 

Eliesse Ben Seghir, Edan Diop and Malamine Efekele were all on the scoresheet for Les Bleuets against Romania on Tuesday in a 4-2 triumph for the U19 side. The former also scored against Norway earlier in the international break, whilst the latter, the lesser known of the three, also registered an assist and earned the penalty, converted by his Monégasque teammate Ben Seghir. 

Monaco’s academy has been shining once more of late. In Get French Football News’ column in The Guardianthe club’s outgoing sporting director Paul Mitchell spoke about the realigning of a strategy, centred around youth, that is beginning to pay dividends – sometimes literally. 

Eliesse Ben Seghir and Edan Diop already fully integrated into Monaco’s first-team

Whilst players such as Aurélien Tchouaméni and Benoît Badiashile have departed for big money, La Diagonale is providing the replacements. The recent success of the club’s academy is, in part at least, attributed to the recent creation of the Groupe Élite, with Mitchell attributing Ben Seghir’s rise in particular to the change, which sees Monaco’s youth face off against some of Europe’s elite teams on a regular basis. 

Ben Seghir made his breakthrough following the international break. The proximity of the academy to the first team allowed the young Frenchman to accumulate credit with Philippe Clement, who trusted him to make the difference against AJ Auxerre upon the return from the World Cup. Ben Seghir scored twice off the bench in a 3-2 win in that game, including a sumptuous curled effort from outside the box to win the game. 

Diop, brother of Sofiane, who left to join local rivals OGC Nice in the summer, has also earned his chance of late. The echoes around Diop have been nothing but positive, with many behind the scenes praising his intelligence, notably his positioning and the timing of his runs. 

He initially got his chance at right-back due to Les Monégasques injury crisis in February, but in the long-term, he is expected to feature in the midfield, although his versatile profile lends him many possibilities. 

Malamine Efekele garners Kylian Mbappé comparisons

Efekele is the lesser-known of Monaco’s France U19 goalscorers against Romania. Unlike Ben Seghir and Diop, he is yet to feature for the first team and is not yet regularly training with the pros. He did, however, sign his first professional deal with the Principality club last summer. 

Many comparisons have been drawn between Efekele, and another graduate of La Diagonale, Kylian Mbappé. Upon the signing of his contract, many on social media pointed out a physical likeness to the France captain, and the similarities didn’t stop there.

Efekele was first trained at AS Bondy, like the Parisian superstar, and went through similar elite training at Clairefontaine as did the current France international. What is most striking is that the current Monégasque was even coached by the father of the PSG striker: Wilfred Mbappé. 

Monaco’s conveyor belt of young talent doesn’t look like stopping any time soon, and on the evidence of their showings for France’s Éspoirs, Ben Seghir, Diop and Efekele all look to have bright futures ahead of them. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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