Bernardo Silva is the best player in France at the moment, and once again he inspired Monaco to another impressive result, beating second-placed Nice 3-0 to throw a dent into Lucien Favre’s title chances with his upstart side. It’s been a rocky month for Nice, with one win in its last six games. It is down to third place but 12 points clear of fourth-placed Lyon, so it remains in pole position for a European spot.
At the top, though, Monaco seems irrepressible. Leonardo Jardim has constructed a devastating attacking side, with fullback Benjamin Mendy setting up two goals for Radamel Falcao. For all the talk of Monaco being brilliant at developing its own talent, the real skill is in spotting talents and signing them quick–the likes of Anthony Martial (Lyon), Thomas Lemar (Caen) and Tiemoue Bakayoko (Rennes) all started out elsewhere. Some of the stars of this season, Mendy (signed from Marseille) and fellow fullback Djibril Sidibe (Lille), are both in their debut seasons at the club. And in the midfield, keeping things ticking, is Silva, signed from Benfica at 19 and according to the French press, the subject of an €80 million bid from Manchester United last month.
Silva will be in Manchester soon: for the Champions League round-of-16 series against Manchester City, who itself is coming into a run of form. Monaco has already proved it can beat Premier League sides, knocking out Arsenal in 2015 and Tottenham in this season’s group stage. The assumption is that City, with its big-name players and a semifinal appearance last season, should ultimately prevail. But look at Monaco’s performances–it is still the highest-scoring side across Europe’s top five leagues–and this is no easy tie for City.
Monaco reached the final in 2004 when Didier Deschamps was boss. Write Monaco off at your own peril.