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There has been little to cheer at Monaco in the past two years.
After their 2016/17 Ligue 1 winning side was picked apart by Europe’s elite, Les Monegasques flatlined. League finishes of 17th and ninth have followed.
Amidst the chaos of the last two seasons, Thierry Henry was given his first managerial opportunity in professional football at the Stade Louis II. His time in charge was short-lived. The players revolted under him – demanding Leonardo Jardim be reinstated.
With little choice, Henry was forced to select players from Monaco's youth teams. One of those was then 17-year-old centre-back Benoît Badiashile.
Given his debut in a 4-0 Ligue 1 drubbing by Paris Saint-Germain and famously subject to a spiteful glare from Henry after failing to tuck his chair in at the end of a press conference, things were not handed to him on a silver platter.
Two years on, Badiashile has more than 45 Monaco appearances to his name. Regarded as one of the brightest defensive prospects on the continent, the France Under-19 captain has exhibited a sense of maturity years beyond his age since breaking into the side.
Despite only recently turning 19, Badiashile offers a mightily imposing presence in the Monaco backline. Standing at 6ft 4in, the teenager won 3.57 aerial duels per 90 in Ligue 1 this season. Badiashile has also had no qualms adapting to the physicality of professional football, bullying Ligue 1 attackers, often his senior, off the ball.
Boasting frightening acceleration, Badiashile has been forced to get the much-slower Kamil Glik and Guillermo Maripan out of trouble from time to time. Making 7.39 ball recoveries per 90, the centre-back’s pace is vital to allowing Jardim to set out with a high defensive line.
The 19-year-old is just as comfortable on the ball as he is off it. Acting as the orchestrator in the heart of the Monaco defence, Badiashile is integral to Jardim’s desire of playing out from the back. Composed on the ball at all times, the defender has an array of passes in his arsenal, making 24.08 forward passes per 90 in the league this campaign.
Badiashile is constantly aware of his surroundings and often looks to break the lines with penetrative passes into the feet of further forward team-mates. However, he's also just as capable of playing passes over a long distance, with 7.9 accurate long passes into the opposition’s half per 90. Be it through-balls in behind the opposition’s defence or cross-field switches to a team-mate on the alternate touchline, Badiashile is always looking to find a pass.
The youngster also utilises his burst of pace and tidy footwork to bring the ball out of defence. Often seen surging upfield with the ball at his feet, Badiashile has offered a completely new dimension to Monaco’s attack by luring players into pressing him before picking out a team-mate.
Badiashile has displayed tactical flexibility over the course of the current campaign. Despite Jardim often setting out with a four-man defence, he has reverted to using three at the back. In the three-man system, Badiashile plays as the left-sided centre-back and has looked just as comfortable as when playing in a back four.
As would be expected at his age, Badiashile has displayed a few lapses in concentration since his emergence in the principality. His eagerness to play out from the back has been punished on the odd occasion, with stray passes leaving Monaco's defence exposed to the threat of a counter-attack.
Badiashile was linked with a move to Napoli in January with a view of replacing Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese was reported to be the subject of high-profile interest from Manchester United and Manchester City.
Yet after United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward announced the Red Devils will not have a large budget in the coming window, they have been forced to look at cheaper alternatives to Koulibaly. Badiashile's is a name that has repeatedly been linked.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are in desperate need of addition at centre-back. Roma look set to make Chris Smalling’s loan permanent, whilst Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have been surplus to requirements for some time.
With a sky-high trajectory, Badiashile certainly suits United’s recent policy of blooding the squad with young players. With a reported asking price of £25million, a move for the 19-year-old would represent extremely shrewd business.