Has Keita Balde finally arrived for Monaco?

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The Senegal international has struggled to adjust to life in the Principality but does his recent form justify his purchase?


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Keita Balde had a season to remember with Lazio in Serie A last season, where his fine displays were crucial as the Biancocelesti scored 74 goals - the fourth highest in the division - to finish fifth to qualify for the Europa League.

Balde played his own part, scoring 16 goals and contributing six assists in 34 games in all competitions, and expectedly ended his long and troubled association with Lazio by making the switch to Monaco.

The Senegal international was expected to hit the ground running immediately as a direct replacement for Kylian Mbappe, who had secured a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but the new boy initially struggled for form and fitness, and fans were made to wait for him to make an impact.

Keita now seems to have rediscovered his best form, scoring in back-to-back Ligue 1 games against Caen and Bordeaux – his first pair of goals in red and white.

His maiden goal was scored when playing as a left-sided attacking midfielder, while against Les Girondins he netted as the main striker with regular frontman Radamel Falcao out with injury.

This is a remainder of Balde’s versatility across the frontline. The Girona-born forward’s threat on the counter, added to his fantastic dribbling and finishing, explain why his €30 million purchase from Lazio can be seen as a bargain.

Monaco are the reigning French champions, but have it all to do in their title defence, as PSG have come out all guns blazing with the inclusion of Neymar and Mbappe. This duo have 14 goals between them, while Edinson Cavani has 15.

Keita Balde on Mbappe

At the moment, Monaco are in second, four points behind their oil-rich title rivals, and though they have put together some good results, two defeats in 11 league games compared to PSG’ s zero losses from the same number means Leonardo Jardim’s men are on the back foot already. 

Could Balde’s return to form ensure Mbappe's exit isn't felt quite as keenly moving forward, and could he prompt a serious title challenge?

“I do not know Kylian Mbappe personally but I know he is a very good player,” Balde said at a media conference back in September. “I am not here to replace him. He has his style of play and I have mine.”

Mbappe left a vacuum at Monaco after scoring 26 goals in 44 games in all competitions last term, and while Keita might not match this tally, he will be at least expected to turn in the form he demonstrated with Lazio.

Keita Balde Monaco Caen

Monaco’s biggest concern will be in the Uefa Champions League where they sit rock bottom of Group G after three games with just a solitary point. This puts them in a tight situation in their bid to make it to the round of 16 after reaching semi-finals last season.

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With Besiktas taking maximum points from their opening three games, Les Monegasques' hopes will probably hang onto finishing second and it's imperative that their revival begins with a win away in Istanbul on Wednesday.

It won’t be an easy game, as the Black Eagles claimed a 2-1 victory at Stade Louis II on matchday three, but the upturn in Balde's recent fortunes is a reason for optimism.

He's finally beginning to show his best form, and with Monaco feeling the crunch of their mass summer exodus more than before, they need their expensive new signing's top form more than ever.

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