Few things in football can pique the interest and arouse the hopes of supporters like a transfer. Quite frequently, it’s a dalliance with despair after the sheen of a new arrival wears away to reveal a player who can do little to change a club’s fortunes.
Following the shocking 2015-16 Ligue 1 conquest and Champions League semi-final run, Monaco sold some of their prized assets as part of a dicey transfer practice that shipped out emerging stars for younger options with an emphasis on balancing the books.
It wasn’t just names splashed across the marquee of Europe’s best, either. Players like Abdou Diallo, Terence Kongolo, Rachid Ghezzal, and Guido Carrillo have been sold for varying fees, and to varying effects. Ask any crestfallen Southampton fan about the £19 million splashed for Carillo and the query is certain to be met by a chorus of groans after the Argentine failed to score in seven league outings before being loaned to Leganes. All that glitters is sometimes Carrillo.
Considering only a slew of high-profile players bid adieu to the principality, here’s a look at seven big-name sales and how they’ve fared with their new sides to date. The report cards are in the mail, and for a select few, it’s a race to get home before mom and dad.
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Grade: A+
- Reported fee: €145M (+ €35M in add-ons)
- League appearances: 37
From coveted youth talent to the face of France’s World Cup winning side, Kylian Mbappe has enjoyed a rapid rise that merited an opulent return to the French capital for the Bondy-born star. The inaugural Kopa Trophy winner has registered 25 goals and a dozen assists in 37 Ligue 1 outings while combining flawlessly with the other two members of Paris Saint-Germain’s lethal three-prong attack, Neymar and Edinson Cavani. Worth every penny, and more.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
- Grade: A
- Reported fee: €50M
- League appearances: 50
Following an up-and-down maiden campaign at the Etihad that often saw the Portuguese international play second fiddle in Manchester City’s stacked side, Bernardo Silva has arguably been the team’s best player this year. A beneficiary of Kevin De Bruyne’s absence, the 24-year-old Silva has started 14 league matches this season – one fewer than all of last year – while displaying world-class passing and dribbling skills. PFA Team of the Year honors await.
Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
- Grade: B
- Reported fee: €70M
- League appearances: 14
Considering the pedigree of the player and the parties involved, Thomas Lemar’s club-record summer move to Atletico Madrid has strangely flown under the radar. The World Cup winner has appeared in all but one of Los Colchoneros’ league affairs, adding versatility to Diego Simeone’s squad by plying his trade on both flanks while offering width. Lemar’s two-goal, Man of the Match display against Getafe was a sign of the 23-year-old’s best.
Joao Moutinho (Wolves)
- Grade: C
- Reported fee: €6M
- League appearances: 16
A veteran among Nuno Espirito Santo’s Molineux-based Portuguese diaspora, Joao Moutinho made the Wolves switch this past summer to form a daunting midfield pairing with countryman Ruben Neves. While the featherweight tandem has been easy to breach while defending, Moutinho is at his best when standing above a dead ball or pulling the strings from deep. The 32-year-old’s showings have been on par with Wolves’ mercurial season.
- Grade: C
- Reported fee: €45M
- League appearances: 7
Much is made of the strain of adapting to life in England’s top flight, and for Brazilian midfielder Fabinho, its a work in progress. Expected to immediately step into Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI alongside fellow newcomer Naby Keita, instead, it’s been a protracted approach for the angular 25-year-old. A strong 90-minute showing in the weekend’s 4-0 bludgeoning of Bournemouth provided a glimpse of Fabinho’s two-way potential. Still too early to tell.
Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City)
- Grade: C+
- Reported fee: €57.5M
- League appearances: 16
Bitten once more by the injury bug, Benjamin Mendy has had a tough time staying healthy since joining the league holders two summers ago. Even with just nine league appearances this season, Mendy’s five assists are tops among defenders, and his ability to deliver incisive early crosses benefits a City side content with walking the ball into the net. Compared to fellow left-backs Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko, Mendy is in a class of his own when fit.
Tiemoue Bakayoko (AC Milan, on loan from Chelsea)
- Grade: D
- Reported fee: €40M
- League appearances: 40 total (11 with Milan)
Sadly for Tiemoue Bakayoko, his name was an immediate and unfair addition to a laundry list of Chelsea scapegoats following his move to Stamford Bridge last summer. That prompted a loan to AC Milan, and after appearing a fish out of water with the Blues, the 24-year-old pivot has enjoyed a renaissance at the San Siro this season – despite a trademark rocky start. Now settled, Bakayoko has thrived of late in Serie A while adopting a simplified approach.