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A partner for a successful marriage? Monaco seek majority stake in Cercle Brugge

Monaco have made an offer to purchase a majority stake in Cercle Brugge as the Ligue 1 leaders seek to benefit from the "Belgian school" of youth development.

Leonardo Jardim's team are impressing on the pitch in 2016-17, sitting top of the table and three points clear of reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain.

The club, owned by Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, also have at least one eye on the future, though, and are seeking to take control of the Belgian second-tier outfit. 

"AS Monaco FC wishes to announce that it has made a purchase offer... to acquire a majority stake in the club Cercle Brugge KSV," Monaco said in a statement.

"A general meeting of Cercle Brugge's shareholders will examine the proposal in order to take a decision by the end of February. This project is part of AS Monaco's strategy for developing young talent. 

"The club could thus benefit from the know-how of the 'Belgian school' while respecting the traditions and values of the Cercle Brugge, the historic club of Belgian football.

"Eventually, the project will provide an additional stage in the development of young players from the AS Monaco Academy, between the reserve team (in the CFA division) and AS Monaco first team.

"The primary objective will be to achieve promotion to the Belgian first division."

In a statement on the club website, Cercle Brugge, who were relegated last season, outlined the need for external investment to maximise the club's chances of returning to the top flight. 

"It is an open secret that healthy business in First Division B of professional football in Belgium is not easy, partly due to the limited revenue from television fees and the limited media attention and by the high operational costs," the statement said.

"A partner for a successful marriage now presents itself. 

"The present shareholders and members must give the green light to continue negotiations with AS Monaco in order to finalise the deal in the coming weeks."