June 25, 2020 11:37:19 pm
Monaco took the first steps toward rebuilding for next season by releasing several players on Thursday, including creative forward Islam Slimani and veteran goalkeeper Danijel Subašic.
Slimani was on loan from Premier League side Leicester and finished with eight assists, the second-highest in the league behind Paris Saint-Germain winger Ángel Di María (14).
Slimani formed a strong partnership with Wissam Ben Yedder, the highest scorer alongside PSG’s Kylian Mbappé with 18 goals when the season was ended 10 rounds early because of the coronavirus pandemic. But Monaco decided against taking up the option to sign the Algerian forward permanently for a reported sum of 10 million euros ($11.2 million).
Subašic made nearly 300 appearances since joining Monaco nine years ago and was a big fan favorite. But the 35-year-old Croatia goalkeeper fell out of favor last season and Monaco has not renewed his contract, nor that of backup goalies Diego Benaglio and Seydou Sy and forward Moussa Sylla.
Defensive midfielders Tiemoué Bakayoko, a former player who returned to Monaco on loan from Premier League Chelsea, and Adrien Silva, loaned by Leicester, are also leaving.
Monaco said it has also released seven academy players whose contracts have ended, while another academy prospect has signed for another club.
The overhaul will lighten the wage bill and comes after the club appointed Paul Mitchell as its sporting director last week.
The 38-year-old Englishman, who is widely regarded as one of the most efficient talent scouts in Europe, previously worked with RB Leipzig and Premier League clubs Southampton and Tottenham.
Eight-time French champion Monaco has been struggling with consistency since upsetting PSG to win the league three years ago, when it also reached the Champions League semifinals with an exciting brand of football which produced more than 150 goals that season.
Mitchell’s immediate task is building a strong enough squad to return to the Champions League.
Monaco finished a modest ninth last season, having narrowly avoided relegation the season before during a turbulent campaign where it sacked Leonardo Jardim, hired former France great Thierry Henry, then sacked Henry and re-hired Jardim.
Jardim, who guided Monaco to the 2017 league title, was then fired again last December to make way for Robert Moreno. Moreno will be hoping to keep the 29-year-old France international Ben Yedder, who is being courted by several big clubs.
French clubs resumed training this week for the new season, which is set to start on August 22.
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