Giving playing time to products of the academy and to young players in general is part of AS Monaco’s DNA. It has even generally been a guarantee of success over the last decades. And this season was no exception to the rule as the Principality club finished third in the league and was a finalist in the Coupe de France. The Rouge et Blanc have therefore had a 2020-2021 season beyond their expectations, buoyed by a young squad who are not afraid of anything.
Eliot Matazo’s first career goal
This was seen, for example, during the match in Reims at the beginning of May where Eliot Matazo scored the only goal of the match after a fine bit of play. After recovering the ball in midfield, the young Belgian (19) split the Reims defence before finding Wissam Ben Yedder in the box to his right. He then continued his run and had only to tap home to score the first goal of his young career in Ligue 1.
The 19-year-old therefore secured all three points for his side that night. It was a vital victory which allowed AS Monaco to remain in third place, but he wasn’t the only one to shine under Niko Kovac this season. Here are some of the key stats highlighting the Monegasque “youth movement.”
This is the average age of the Monegasque squad this season, the third youngest in Ligue 1 formation behind Nice and Reims.
15 players aged 22 or under have featured this season. They are: Radoslaw Majecki, Benoit Badiashile, Chrislain Matsima, Strahinja Pavlovic, Giulian Biancone, Aurélien Tchouameni, Youssouf Fofana, Florentino Luis, Eliot Matazo, Enzo Millot, Krépin Diatta, Sofiane Diop, Willem Geubbels, Pietro Pellegri and Valentin Decarpentrie.
Academy graduates have also been in the spotlight this season, with six having featured at least once on a team sheet, with five of them getting on the pitch.
6 players under 23 against Paris
Proof that Niko Kovac is not afraid to throw his youngsters into battle, there were six under 23 players included from the start at the Parc des Princes. Playing in this legendary stadium in France and against a PSG side who had just defeated Barcelona four days earlier did not intimidate them, as the Rouge et Blanc won, 2-0, with Sofiane Diop scoring the opening goal.
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) February 24, 2021
Aurélien Tchouameni and Benoît Badiashile rack up the minutes in Ligue 1
Aurélien Tchouameni (3073 minutes) and Benoît Badiashile (2871 minutes) are among the top four for players aged 21 or under in terms of minutes played in the league, and the former Bordeaux player is beaten only by Lille defender Sven Botman.
15 AS Monaco goals were scored by players under the age of 22, with Sofiane Diop top, having scored seven goals. If we add assists, the team’s youngsters have been decisive 23 times this season in Ligue 1.
First player born in 2002 or later to score with Monaco
By scoring the first goal of his career that Sunday in Reims, Eliot Matazo became the first player born in or after 2002 to score for AS Monaco.
— Ligue 1 Uber Eats (@Ligue1UberEats) May 9, 2021
187 ball recoveries
Aurélien Tchouameni recovered 187 balls in Ligue 1 in 2021, including 12 against Stade de Reims and 15 against Lille. These performances earned him the title the team’s Player of the Year, as voted by the fans.
Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year
He was also honored by the Trophées UNFP as the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year and as a part of the Team of the Season.