Le50 2016: Paul Nardi – AS Monaco
Paul Nardi is touted as one of France’s up and coming hopes in the goalkeeping position. The trouble is, with so much talent in that spot in the U21 and below squads, it can be difficult to eke out a name for yourself. For the 21-year-old, however, this task is not proving to be as difficult as first thought.
Nardi was signed just before the confirmation of Leonardo Jardim’s arrival, but it was clear that he was ushering in a new era at the Stade Louis II. Gone were the glamorous big name signings of project ‘Galactico Monaco’, with the focus turning to long-term investments like the teenage goalkeeper.
Recruited from AS Nancy, where Nardi had begun to make an impression, the youngster was immediately loaned back to the Lorraine club to continue his development. In Ligue 2 last season, he managed six clean sheets and several good performances for ASNL, featuring in 29 of the club’s 38 league games.
His return to the Stade Louis II was much anticipated, given the departure of Maarten Stekelenburg. As Danijel Subasic’s number 2, Nardi had the opportunity to deputise for the Croatian international and continue his trajectory at Monaco, under the watchful eye of Jardim.
The plus side is that he has been able to benefit from further training alongside Subasic and the goalkeeping coaches to refine his game. Indeed, in his first two Ligue 1 games for Monaco, he managed to keep two clean sheets – earning Monaco an important four points.
However, chances to appear for the first team have been relatively few, and this is where Nardi’s development is threatened. With Monaco having a very capable Subasic between the sticks, Nardi has only featured a handful of times so far this season.
Such intermittence in playing minutes can obviously fail to maintain momentum, especially on the back of a fine season at Nancy. Furthermore, it can also harm future chances if performances aren’t up to speed. This was also the case for Nardi in the Coupe de La Ligue exit to Bordeaux, where the Monegasques were beaten 3-0, and the goalkeeper endured an unusually below-par performance. The absence of regularity could pose a problem.
After his superb performances for Les Espoirs at the Toulon Tournament in 2014, many believed that Nardi, along with Alphonse Areola, were the future of the national team, but his path to the senior squad isn’t as clear nearly two years on.
Thomas Didillon at Metz and Bingourou Kamara from Tours have both excelled recently, putting Nardi’s place in the under-21 squad into question. Elsewhere, Alban Lafont (four and a half years Nardi’s junior) is excelling at Toulouse. Paul Bernadoni is coming onto the horizon at Bordeaux, having signed from Troyes. Competition is fierce.
Despite his obvious talent, good reflexes and aerial proficiency, Nardi faces an important crossroads in 2016 – does he continue to bide his time at Monaco and hope for an opening, or move forward with another loan or permanent move to another Ligue 1 side? He certainly has the skills to excel.