Youth in the making. Last Saturday, Cercle Bruges won against Kortrijk (2-0) with a team whose average age did not exceed 23, and with five players from its academy having taken the pitch. Since the start of the season in Ligue 1, five players who came up at the AS Monaco Academy have accumulated playing time with AS Monaco: Benoît Badiashile, Chrislain Matsima, Eliot Matazo, Félix Lemarechal and Maghnes Akliouche. And two others, Yllan Okou and Florian Baranik, made the trip to Austria with the first team, to face Sturm Graz in the Europa League, just as Yann Liénard had gone to Donetsk in August.
🇲🇨x 🇧🇪 𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗿𝗲 𝗰𝗹𝘂𝗯 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻 a empoché un second succès consécutif.
Well done @cercleofficial 👊
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) December 7, 2021
Professional experience in Bruges for one of the reserves’ top players
It is in this context of the development of young players that the two sister clubs have decided to continue to develop the synergies that already exist between the two teams. “Youth development is central to our common strategy, and we believe that this type of experience can give players the right tools to become better in the future”, explains Carlos Aviña, Cercle’s Technical Director.
In this month of December, three players from across the two clubs will thus have a bit more experience through a player exchange. Part of Stéphane Nado’s National 2 side, left back Louis Torres (20) has joined Bruges to participate in training with the first team throughout the month of December. Previously in November, he had the opportunity to make a three-day visit to familiarize himself with the club’s facilities and the Jupiler Pro League.
Two young Belgians to train with the reserves
For their part, striker Wolf Ackx (19) has already appeared with Cercle’s first team this season, while from the Belgian side’s reserves, attacking midfielder Xander Martle (18), has just signed a development contract. The pair will join the ranks of the Monegasque reserves, the number 55 from Bruges and the Belgian U-17 international (4 caps) will thus come to train with the reserves until December 18, a date on which the team will play its last match of 2021 against its counterpart, Olympique de Marseille.
It’s thus a sort of student exchange, as Pascal De Maesschalk, Youth Director at La Diagonale, explains “If they are able to adapt very quickly, it is a sign that perhaps they will be able to make a career for themselves at a high level. We want to see how they will experience this exchange, this challenge, which for me is comparable to an academic exchange, at a university.”
For him, it was above all a rewarding experience for the players concerned. “In training in general, whether in football or at the social level, it is always interesting to have an exchange of experiences, to discover a new environment and to face a different level and style of play,” he explains.
Following the examples of Strahinja Pavlovic and Edgaras Utkus
It is also a way of discovering a new culture, new learning techniques, in a different setting. Above all, it’s proof that the synergies between AS Monaco and Cercle Bruges are numerous and constructive. This is exemplified by the loans made between the two clubs in recent years, and the play of youngsters like Giulian Biancone (45 games, 2 goals and 3 assists), Strahinja Pavlović last season (12 games, 1 goal and 1 assist), or Edgaras Utkus this year (16 games, 1 goal).
“He is also from the Diagonale, and has integrated very well into the first team this season. He plays almost every minute in the league. It gives us some idea of the success that we can have through these experiences”, avers Pascal De Maesschalk. All told, it’s yet another fine example of the joint work carried out with young people by AS Monaco and the Cercle Bruges.
Edgaras Utkus 🤤 !! pic.twitter.com/hONjDd2eej
— Cercle Brugge (@cercleofficial) August 7, 2021