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AS Monaco 2-0 Saint-Étienne

Leonardo Jardim leads AS Monaco to Ligue 1 title

CNN  — 

Paris Saint-Germain’s era of dominance is over and the Ligue 1 trophy is once again in the hands of AS Monaco.

A 2-0 win against Saint-Étienne, courtesy of a cool finish from Kylian Mbappé and a last-minute goal for Valère Germain, means Leonardo Jardim’s men cannot be caught, and emerge victorious in the French top-tier for the first time since the turn of the millennium.

From a singular financial model to a cutting-edge kitchen, CNN Sport looks at the reasons behind the club’s success.

A new model

When AS Monaco spent upwards of $160 million on players in a single transfer window four years ago, it appeared French and European football had a new powerhouse in town.

The small principality had only just been promoted to Ligue 1, but utilized a prince’s influence and apparently boundless riches provided by billionaire Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev to secure the signatures of world class talent, from James Rodriguez to Radamel Falcao.

A second place finish followed, as fans reveled in a long-awaited challenger to the Qatari wealth of PSG.

But perceiving the unsustainability of such a transfer policy, Monaco abandoned its lavish spending as abruptly as it had begun, and one by one the new breed of “Galaticos” departed.

PSG, meanwhile, continued to lure some of the world’s best players to the capital, utterly dominating French football and wrapping up last season’s Ligue 1 title by early March.

Over 30 points clear of the nearest challengers in 2015/16, PSG’s star-studded squad might have expected to look down on little Monaco once again this season.

How wrong they were.

In an era of super agents and $100 million players, vice president and CEO Vadim Vasilyev has bucked football’s trend of spending big.

And in a game where a leading British pundit once said “you can’t win anything with kids,” Monaco sits atop the French league with one of European football’s youngest starting lineups.

“In the beginning we needed massive investment to convince top players to come, otherwise it would have taken years,” Vasilyev told CNN Sport in April.

However with a population of just under 40,000 and a stadium capacity of 18,523, the former Russian diplomat quickly realized that model was untenable long-term.

“We understand our advantages and we understand our handicaps,” he shrugged, explaining limited revenues meant Monaco had to change tack and adopt a new policy.

Vasilyev calls it step two: “developing young players and letting them go when the time is right.”

A new generation