Though the principality side won Ligue 1 in season 2016-17 and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, they were forced to watch on as PSG reinforced by signing Neymar for €222 million from Barcelona before taking Kylian Mbappe from their grasp, initially on a loan deal but with a purchase clause worth in the region of €180m.
While he is hopeful of more successful campaigns, he said that they cannot be expected to be habitual.
“We're the first club behind this monster,” he told Goal . “We cannot compare the two projects. PSG have a budget of €600 million and almost unlimited resources. If we look at our direct competitors, the two Olympiques, Lyon and Marseille, we have done better.
“We were champions and we made a semi-final in the Champions League. No one has done better in the last five years, not even PSG.
“On the other hand, it is also clear that competition is intensifying. Lyon rely on their academy but also on their new stadium, which brings additional resources. Marseille have also begun a new cycle so there has been unprecedented competition this season. All good for French football!”
Indeed, Vasilyev admits it is not Monaco’s aim to win titles every season.
“We are ambitious but realistic,” he said. “To be realistic is not to want to compete with PSG in the long run. It can happen like last season but in the long run I would say it's impossible.
“My president Dmitry Rybolovlev had the intelligence to change the project based on young people, future talents and make the club a reference in the development of stars of tomorrow.”
The model is working smoothly, Vasilyev argues, although he accepts there are aspects that could be refined.
“There are always things to improve,” he said. “We are ambitious and we always want to do better. But I think that the results of the last five years and two world records in the transfer market show everyone that our model is working well.”
Monaco is a club with a reputation for producing world-class young talent through their academy, and that is something they are keen to build on in the years ahead. Mbappe has already shown his worth, while young striker Moussa Sylla marked his first full start for the club late last season with a double against Caen that helped Leonardo Jardim’s side finish second.
“The training centre is in the DNA of our club,” he said. “We have just to remember that when France won the World Cup in 1998, four players [Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Lilian Thuram and Emmanuel Petit] came from Monaco. We have a tradition that makes our training centre one of the best in Europe.
“It is a great satisfaction to see Sylla, Julian Serrano or Kevin N'Doram coming out of our centre and there are others who will follow.”
But Monaco have not just had success bringing their own players through, as Vasilyev was keen to point out, arguing that a raft of youngsters have joined the club and seen their careers explode thereafter.
“Young people are watching what we do. Apart from our results, they watch James Rodriguez, Martial, Mbappe, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva ... They see that everyone leaves Monaco to go to the biggest clubs in the world. They think that by coming here and reaching the goals they will also be able to go to the bigger clubs. And that's it, attractiveness.
“People are often wrong, they say it's for business but no, that's the attractiveness of our project: let one go so that others can follow.”
Indeed, it appears the influence of Monaco is growing, with Pietro Pellegri attracted to the club from Genoa in January, despite interest from many of Europe’s biggest clubs, while Jordi Mboula was snapped up from Barcelona.
This, Vasilyev says, is proof of the quality of the project.
“These players could have gone wherever they wanted,” he said. “There is no need to have good scouts to say that they are very good young people. You just have to be attractive, present the right project and make them choose ours in priority.”
Is Monaco, therefore, the most attractive clubs for young players?
“Yes, I think we can say that,” Vasilyev agreed.
With a new training centre under construction and Cercle Bruges acting as a satellite club in which Monaco’s youngsters can gain experience in the Belgian top flight, Vasilyev is confident about where the club will be in five years.
“I would like a club that continues to shine on the national and European stages,” he said. “I would like to see our projects with Cercle Bruges and our training centre to make the stars of tomorrow growing and become a reference club for young people in the long term.
“I would also like that in addition to the transfer market we can develop other resources internationally. Today we have an exceptional brand with Monaco. We invest a lot in China and I hope that in a few years we will see the results.”