First it was Chelsea, then Manchester City, Paris St.Germain followed and now it’s the turn of Monaco. The little club from the rich-man’s playground is splashing the cash as it tries to play Fantasy Football.
Atletico Madrid’s coveted striker, Rademal Falcao, was supposed to be heading for London, Manchester or Barcelona. But the £50m tabled by Monaco has seemingly hood-winked everyone. Monaco, Ligue deux winners in France. Not even Ligue 1. And a team that will not be playing European football next season. Are Monaco the new PSG?
It looks like it. Monaco seem to be linked with everyone at present, a sure sign that they have adopted a scatter-gun approach to chequebook team building. And by revealing their hand, Monaco are making it that much harder for the traditional summer fat-cats to greedily acquire the marque players.
Falcao’s move to Monaco owes as much to the third-party that owns 55% of the 27 year-old striker. Yes, it sounds awfully close to slave labour when you say it like that, but this is highly-paid, highly-pampered slavery. Yet this highly talented player apparently has no say where he will play next and that sounds a little like captivity.
Falcao aside, Monaco have already secured the Porto pair, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho, also both targets of a number of Europe’s blue riband clubs. £60m was paid to the Portuguese champions for the duo. There’s talk of Carlos Tevez going to Monaco and also the Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes, but both rumours have been denied. And Ricardo Cavalho has also joined from Real Madrid. Every day, a new name emerges. For coach Claudio Ranieri, it will feel like 2003 when the Abramovich express pulled into Chelsea. This time it is another oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who is playing “my yacht is bigger than your yacht”.
Monaco’s spending spree will undoubtedly put them among the favourites for the title, but if the French have their way, the big magnet for players, tax exemption, may be removed. Doubtless, there will be a way round this for Monaco, but it may involve the club moving its HQ.
Monaco may be relatively small compared to some of Europe’s big names, but the club has attracted a lot of attention over the years. Some notable figures have been employed as head coach, including Arsene Wenger, Guy Lacombe, Stefan Kovacs and Jean Tigana. And English fans will recall that Glenn Hoddle and Mark Hateley defected to Monaco in the late 1980s. Les Rouge et Blanc, as they are known, won the French title seven times, the last coming in 2000. In 2011, they were relegated and it took two seasons to get back. Monaco topped Ligue 2 in 2012-13, winning 21 of their 38 games and finishing six points ahead of Guincamp.
So in 2013-14, Monaco will be the team to beat in France. PSG may have a say about that, but with both clubs seemingly possessing limitless cash reserves, it will be a two-horse race. It all depends who has the biggest wallet.