By Michael Kachitsa
Monaco was formed in 1919, through a merger of five different clubs in the region. After a failed attempt to turn professional in 1933, Monaco managed to overcome that hurdle in 1948 by entering the Second Division. Following a streak of solid results, they achieved promotion to the First Division in 1953, for the first time in their history.
The club’s first taste of silverware came in the early 60s, under the charismatic manager Lucien Leduc. Following a victory over Seint Etienne in the 1960 Coupe de France final, Leduc led Monaco to a Ligue 1 title in 1961, as well as their first and only Double in 1963. After Leduc decided to move on, however, the club would slide back into mediocrity until the mid-70s and another streak of trophies: the Ligue 1 titles in 1979 and 1982 and the Coupe de France victories in 1980 and 1985.
After another barren spell in the mid-80s, the club hired a then relatively unknown coach named Arsène Wenger, who led the club to their fifth Ligue 1 title in his very first season with Monaco.
Even though they were challenging for the title in each of the successive seasons, Monaco had to settle with one Coupe de France trophy and a loss to Werder Bremen in the Cup Winners’ Cup final before Wenger left the club in 1994. During Wenger’s time at the club, Monaco became known as a team with a strong focus on its young stars such as Emmanuel Petit and Thierry Henry.
The young stars have frequently been grabbed by bigger clubs, but not for free … Anthony Martial was a record transfer for a player 20 years or less in 2015 (sold to Manchester United for €60M), James Rodrigues was the second most expensive player in 2014, when leaving for Real Madrid, and PSG had to pay the biggest transfer fee in history – €180 million – when Kylian Mbappé leaved for Monaco for Paris in 2018.
Shortly after clinching two more Ligue 1 titles in 1997 and 2000 and making the Champions League final in 2004, the club’s numerous financial problems saw them relegated to the Second Division. Their fortunes changed when the club was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2011; soon enough, the club returned to Ligue 1 and started competing for the title again.