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THE DIFFERENCE

Could Pietro Pellegri’s injury woes explain Monaco’s disastrous campaign?

The Italian wonderkid had been tipped as a successor to Kylian Mbappe

Nobody could have imagined Monaco would sit 19th in Ligue 1 after 11 games and have only one win to their name.

Leonardo Jardim was shown the door after a disappointing start and Thierry Henry took up the reigns for his first managerial berth.

There has been little change in their fortunes since the Frenchman’s arrival, however is there more to this story?


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We know Thierry, we know

AFP or licensors
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We know Thierry, we know

Could the injury problems of one potentially decisive player be at the root of their troubles?

Pietro Pellegri has long been tipped for superstardom and this was set to be the season where he finally announced himself to the footballing world.

Great expectations

AFP or licensors
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Great expectations

However injuries have stunted the striker’s development and it’s harming Monaco in the process.

The combative Italian has all the ingredients to become one of Europe’s leading front-men, drawing comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The enigmatic Swede a player Pellegri claims to have studied closely.

If you squint your eyes hard enough he looks like Zlatan

Getty - Contributor
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If you squint your eyes hard enough he looks like Zlatan

Following a January transfer from Genoa to the Monte Carlo club for a reported £22million, the 17-year-old has been drip-fed first-team chances.

This season the shackles were finally freed on one of Europe’s most exciting prospects and to devastating effect.

Pellegri came off the bench against Bordeaux in August to score his first Ligue 1 goal after just minutes on the pitch.

It was meant to be the start of something great

AFP or licensors
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It was meant to be the start of something great

His equalising-strike was a history-making one, as the Italian became the first-ever player born in the 21st century to score in Ligue 1.

The feat was already something Pellegri held in Serie A during his time with Genoa, after he famously tried his best to gatecrash Franceso Totti’s last ever game in 2017.

He opened the scoring against Roma in the 3rd minute when he was aged just 16-years-old.

What were you doing at 16-years-old?

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What were you doing at 16-years-old?

Pellegri’s strike against Bordeaux placed him as the 2nd youngest goalscorer for Monaco in Ligue 1 history, behind only Kylian Mbappe in the illustrious list.

The Italian’s potential is sadly remaining untapped.

He’s featured just twice since that moment, with hamstring injuries and an on-going groin problem restricting him to the cushioned base of the treatment table.

The 17-year-old was awarded his first-ever call-up to Roberto Mancini’s Italy squad last month but was forced to withdraw through injury.

Strike a pose

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Strike a pose

With Radamel Falcao the only one among Monaco’s ranks who knows where the goal is, the scoring burden is starting to weigh-heavy on the ageing Colombian.

The 32-year-old’s four goals are rivalled only by Youri Tieleman’s three, with the duo the only players to register over one goal this season.

There’s no doubt Pellegri would be more than doing his part to bare the load for an under-performing side had he stayed fit.

We’re all familiar with the narrative of Monaco’s finest talent getting poached every season, with James Rodriguez, Benjamin Mendy and Anthony Martial, to name just a few, all departing for pastures new in recent years.

Once upon a time at Monaco (ignore Emmanuel Riviere)

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Once upon a time at Monaco (ignore Emmanuel Riviere)

The club’s track-record of allowing star performers to leave so frequently lends itself to a connection with their poor form this season.

But with a talent like Pellegri absent for such a large part of campaign, it’s hard not to think that bad luck has also played a part in Monaco’s demise.

Upon his return to full-fitness, the Italian will find himself under the tutorship of one of Europe’s best-ever strikers in Henry.

The Frenchman will hope to kick-start Pellegri’s career and help mould him into the clinical striker he can undoubtedly become.

When this man talks, you listen

Reuters
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When this man talks, you listen

His return to fitness can’t come soon enough for Monaco.


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