Monaco is preparing replacements for their newly transferred stars, with Keita Balde joining from Lazio and looking set to replace Thomas Lemar.
Balde impressed for Lazio last season and the way these sort of things work out, the big name clubs came calling. The way it usually works out in Serie A, at least in recent seasons, champions Juventus get to cherry pick their favorites. Juventus expressed their interest, perhaps a bit more aggressively than they usually do, but all they received was a stern telling off from Lazio. The club’s president Claudio Lotito even labeled the attempts to sign the player as practically “qualifying as a crime”.
Lazio’s snub towards Juventus may have encouraged other clubs to petition the Serie A club to sign the player. AC Milan, Inter, Napoli and West Ham were said to have made an offer for the player or, at least, inquired about signing him. According to Lazio’s reps, Juventus’ offer was not only unwelcome but included a fee of around €15million, while the other interested parties were willing to offer at least double the price. Juve may have labeled the player as overpriced, but the Rome club looks to have received the deal they wanted.
French champions AS Monaco have confirmed signing Balde for a reported €30million. The player looks to arrive in the nick of time, with Thomas Lemar set to be another of the club’s high-profile departures this summer. Balde plays in a similar position to Lemar and even if the midfielder will remain at the French champions, the Senegalese is still likely to get a good amount of playing time this season with heavy competition from PSG in Ligue 1 and hopes good performances in Europe.
Balde talked about his enthusiasm at joining the French champions. The midfielder says that the positive reviews he has received from fellow players weighed on his decision to join the club. “I’m very happy to be signing for AS Monaco, a club with a great history. A lot of players and friends have said good things to me about the club, the spirit in the squad and the team. When you get the chance to come here, you accept straight away. It’s the ideal project for me. I’m very happy to be joining a strong squad, with big players who had a brilliant season last year.”
The 22-year-old midfielder joins Stevan Jovetic who joined Monaco earlier this week. If Balde could be a replacement for Lemar, Jovetic’s task is most likely that of replacing striker Kylian Mbappe, loaned out to rivals PSG. The club’s president Vadim Vasilyev is adamant that the club has been monitoring Keita Balde for some time and the experience he has accumulated in the Serie A in such a long time should prove invaluable.
“We are delighted to welcome Keita Balde to AS Monaco. He is a young forward who already has over 100 appearances in Serie A and also has experience of European competition. He’s a player we’ve been monitoring for some time, who has already shown a lot of quality and in whom we have a lot of faith to continue building a strong side this season.”