AS Saint-Étienne 2020/21 Mid-Season Review
Conquerors of France…
Sounds good..!! Sounds fucking great..!!
Let’s make no mistake. Outdoing both PSG and Monaco, en route to clinching the Ligue 1 title is nothing short of sensational. We’ve steadily been cultivating and preparing ourselves for the battle with said French giants – building a young, hungry squad of players. Saint-Étienne now showcase some of the hottest young talents on the continent. The summer transfer window seeing us loosen the purse strings to secure the services of Jean-Kévin Augustin (£10.5m) from RB Leipzig and, perhaps the finest piece of business you’re likely to witness all year.
Jadon Sancho arrives on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund.
The last time an Englishman made such a profound impact on the game, here in France – no, I’m clearly not talking about Joey Barton. I am in fact drawing comparisons with Jadon and Chris Waddle. The former Olympique Marseille icon dazzled audiences with his wing-wizardry – ghosting past defenders as though they weren’t even there. This is exactly what we’re witnessing from Jadon since his arrival.
So, to the curious case of big lanky streak of pish or, as you’ll probably know him best – Perr Schuurs. How much time, love and care have we spent on Dhr. Schuurs ? Plucked from relative obscurity in the Dutch Jupiler League and nurtured into the towering, cultured centre-back he is today. The blossoming partnership he’s quickly forged with Issa Diop is defensive poetry in motion at times but, that could all be about to come to an abrupt end..!!
Paris Saint-Germain have turned the players head and, after some heated meetings with the player and his agent, we’ve decided to grant Perr permission to speak with them, should they meet the agreed valuation of £29.32m.
Replacing a key component in any side can be a tricky business, and mistakes can often be made. It’s important not to panic and rush into anything. An incorrect move could potentially scupper our first title defence since 1981.
Q. What are the options ?
Following extensive research and thorough examination of scouting dossiers – we’ve narrowed things down somewhat;
A deal for Konaté can be done for £11m. Still some way to go in his overall development, but the stature and physique of the young French defender means he could potentially be a like-for-like replacement for Schuurs. Physically, both Perr and Ibrahima aren’t too far apart, however when it comes down to technical ability – there’s only really one winner. The big Dutchman is a fantastic footballer player.
Just when you feel like the side is nearing completion. Absolutely gutted to be losing Schuurs…
The 6”4” Mafia
Promoting from within is the second option we’ve been exploring.
Jayden signed from Club Brugge back in 2019, for a fee rising to an eventual £1.2m, and has been learning his trade in Lilian Compan’s title winning Under-19 side. He’s a left footer which I really like, I must admit. A player being able to execute tackles on their strong side makes such a difference and, with Diop preferring his right – this is a huge positive.
The aforementioned Lilian Compan is working wonders in our academy. He and his staff guided our under 19’s to the title, which would see us complete the youth and senior double in 2019/20. On to this season and our youngsters have kicked-on and proceeded to destroy all that Europe’s elite have to offer.
These results from the boys simply cannot be overlooked.
Barring the exception of perhaps, the left-back slot (we’ll get to that in a moment) – The senior squad is functioning like a well oiled machine. Each player complimenting each other in a variation of roles, whilst seldom straying from our favoured 4-1-2-3 DM Wide formation.
This could be the perfect time to promote one of our talented youngsters…
There’s certainly a lot more where that came from but, these are the players who could have the potential to make the breakthrough in the near future.
An unsung hero throughout the previous three campaigns, and a player who’s certainly earned his stripes. Cheik M’Bengue’s time as first or even second choice left-back looks to have come to an abrupt end. When called upon this season, he’s been seriously found out. Now that we’ve cemented ourselves as a top three club – this feels like the perfect juncture in which to make the organic step from fielding a defensive full-back on the left side. I’m looking to deploy a wing-back/full-back, thus creating more problems for the opposition. Our magnificent scouting department managed to pluck Sonwabo Makeso from the Sub-Saharan wilderness in South Africa (Mamelodi Sundowns) and, at just nineteen years of age, will most definitely be one to take us into the future.
Senna was brought in to fit a specific requirement, and left the club the following summer – clutching a ligue winners medal. Miangue simply falls foul of a tactical switch that’ll see us shift to more attack focused wing-back play.
Big decision to alter a successful role/position directly after winning the title. We simply must continue the teams evolution and development…
The final piece of the puzzle, and a player whom I’ve long since admired. We previously tried to lure Philipp to the Rhône Valley two seasons back, when we acquired his teammate and compatriot, Max Christiansen. I’m very pleased to confirm that we have in fact secured the signature of Philipp Max from Augsburg in Germany. We were alerted to the release clause (£10.75m) in Philipp’s contract, which allowed us to finally get our man.
With the acquisition of Max, our left side becomes even more explosive than before. Not only do we have the devastating qualities of Jadon Sancho, Levi Garcia and Richarlison – we’ll also have Philipp Max and Sonwab Makeso sprawling forward from their initial defensive positions.
With two footballing behemoths in PSG and AS Monaco, the battle for Ligue 1 supremacy is always going to be an immense challenge, both on, and off the park. This season appears to be no different.
UEFA Champions League
Stabilizing, and cementing our position towards the top end of the Ligue 1 table was always the initial aim when setting off on our journey. We’ve surpassed all expectation thus far, with year-on-year progression – culminating in a ligue victory at the end of season three. The annual evolution should hopefully transfer over to European football, where our performances in the UEFA Champions League have been somewhat underwhelming. So, could this be the season where we make our mark on the European stage ?
Entering the competition as Ligue 1 champions should hopefully work to our advantage.
1) Borussia Dortmund v AS Saint-Étienne, 16 September 2020
Shit..!!! So unlucky, yet bloody careless at the same time..!!
That’s exactly the type of big European matches we brought Blaise Matuidi back for. We’ve been pretty poor defensively here, so, to be honest, i’m glad to get out of Germany with a point.
2) AS Saint-Étienne v Dynamo Kyiv, 29 September 2020
After a nightmare start to the match – we were required to make a game changing substitution after thirty-two minutes.
OFF — Assane Dioussé
Vinícius Júnior — ON
The young Brazilian wonderkid took his position up-top (trequartista), alongside Jean-Kévin Augustin. That is exactly why he’s being touted as a real candidate to claim this years ‘Golden Boy’ award. When this kid wants to play, then it’s pretty much game over for the opposition…
Well done, my son..!!
3) Internazionale Milan v AS Saint-Étienne, 20 October 2020
I’m genuinely delighted to have Blaise Matuidi back in the trenches with us this season. The Frenchman really ramping up his game in the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. He’s bagged the goal that sees us return home with, what could be a valuable point indeed.
4) AS Saint-Étienne v Internazionale Milan, 4 November 2020
Colombian centre-back, Yerry Mina replaces Perr Schuurs at the heart of our defence. I’m raging at Schuurs for trying to force through a move to PSG…!!
5) AS Saint-Étienne v Borussia Dortmund, 24 November 2020Full-time: AS Saint-Étienne 5-3 Borussia Dortmund
Now, that’s what I call entertainment..!!
The giant Colombian repaying my faith with a towering header on nine minutes. Following that, we never really looked back. Enter the wing wizards, Aksel Aktas and early substitute, Jadon Sancho. Virtuoso performances from both players..!!
This display and result feels particularly significant in many ways. I feel it indicates to a clear shift between Dortmund and Saint-Étienne. We now see ourselves as the premier destination for not only Europe but, the World’s elite young footballers – a tag that was previously bestowed upon BVB. Sancho doing the damage against his old employers, acting as the proverbial icing on the (space) cake.
6) Dynamo Kyiv v AS Saint-Étienne, 9 December 2020
You’ll instantly notice the appearance of Rhian Brewster… The young lad has sadly been out since the beginning of the campaign. Now is his fourth year on loan from parent club, Liverpool. Admittedly Rhian has been used sparingly, but the young Englishman comes back from an extended layoff with aplomb.
We’ve done it..!!!
A professional job, well done… Just what we were looking for lads..!!
Superb work – navigating a tricky little group. How far we progress in this tournament could well hinge on the luck of the draw…
Draw: First Knockout Round
This has the potential to be an absolute cracker..!! Two exciting sides going toe-to-toe in a knockout match that’s definitely more than winnable for us.
A sigh of quiet relief… We’ve finished second in the group, and drawn Shakhtar…
It’s maybe taken us time to get here but, the journey has most certainly been one to savor.
We’ll be seeing you again… Very soon.
Les Verts are coming..!!
Take care, and Allez les Verts!