A look back over the season that was for the trio of Nigerian players in the French top flight over the 2014-15 campaign
The Ligue 1 campaign came to an end this weekend, with the division’s Nigerian players all ending the season inside the top half.
Elderson Echiejile and AS Monaco will look back on a fine year which, despite an inauspicious start, ended on a high note.
The Monegasques underwent something of a face lift last summer.
Deciding that the big-spending approach wasn’t the way to go, the club’s president Dmitry Rybolovlev opted to employ a different, more modest method in order to reach the top of the French game.
His decision means that Monaco’s rise will certainly be a longer-build, rather than the instant impact they had originally intended, but there has been a suggestion this season that the new direction will bear fruit down the road.
Last summer, erstwhile Galacticos Radamel Falcao, Emmanuel Riviere and James Rodriguez were cast off—the first to Manchester United on a lucrative loan deal, the French forward to Newcastle United and the playmaker sold to Real Madrid on the back of a fine World Cup for €80 million.
In their place came the likes of former Stade Rennais man Tiemoue Bakayoko and, later, Bernardo Silva.
While it’s intriguing to imagine where Monaco might have finished had they kept hold of James, Falcao’s struggles at Old Trafford suggest that his temporary departure was a wise move by the Club of the Principality.
There is great reason for optimism; after a slow start Monaco demonstrated impressive consistency and magnificent defensive resiliency to return to the Champions League places, even overcoming defeat to Olympique de Marseille in May to hold on to third spot.
In the major European continental competition this term, their excellent resolve at the back served them well. They topped Group C after only conceding one goal, before seeing off Arsenal in the Last 16 after a terrific 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.
They ultimately fell to eventual-finalists Juventus in the quarter-finals, but can look back with pride after only conceding one goal—an Arturo Vidal penalty—in an aggregate defeat.
As was the case last term, Elderson has been a regular substitute due to the impressive form and attacking prowess of first-choice left-back Layvin Kurzawa.
The French international has enjoyed another fine terrific campaign, limiting the Nigerian to only 12 appearances in Ligue 1.
Echeijile has played his part, however, and played the full 90 minutes in the first-leg triumph over Arsenal. He has similarly delivered fine displays against Stade Malherbe Caen, Stade Rennais and Bayer Leverkusen, and would be an able replacement for Kurzawa should the 22-year-old depart this summer.

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