A new football super power may be on the rise in France’s Ligue One, in the form of AS Monaco, who recently won promotion to Ligue 1.
I know what you’re thinking.
Surely a team that’s just come up to the top division won’t be able to challenge the likes of Paris Saint-Germain or Olympique Marseille for the French title.
Well, it looks like Monaco is putting a squad together that may do just that. Cost be damned.
Monaco’s recent splurge on highly rated players suggests they are aiming to follow in the footsteps of Manchester City and Chelsea, who’ve previously “bought success”.
In the past week Monaco have splashed the cash and signed Porto pair James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho for a combined total of €70 million. Both players signed five year deals with the club. On Tuesday, Monaco also signed Ricardo Carvalho from Real Madrid on a free transfer.
But their biggest potential signing has shocked almost everyone in the football world.
Reports Ligue 1 side Monaco reach agreement on deal for Atletico Madrid striker Radamel #Falcao #football
— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) May 21, 2013
Colombian striker Radamel Falcao has had the world at his feet after a string of extremely impressive performances in the past couple of years. In 87 games for Atletico Madrid, Falcao scored a remarkable 69 goals, and had some of the biggest football clubs in the world scrambling for his signature.
Throughout the season Falcao was constantly linked with a rumoured transfer to Chelsea. The club was expected to shell out a whopping £60 million to see the forward move to Stamford Bridge. However, instead of signing for a heavyweight like Chelsea or Manchester City, Falcao reportedly deciding to move to the newly promoted principality club on a four year deal.
Monaco’s assistant coach Jean Petit has also said they want to sign a few more big names before the transfer window ends, with their potential targets reportedly including Branislav Ivanovic and Hulk.
“We are expecting Falcao and four or five other players of his quality,” Petit told Radio RCN.
“Monaco need a player like Falcao because he can help us a lot and because he can attract other top players, and that’s the best way of confirming our project is big and interesting” he added.
Carlos Tevez has confirmed that he would have no qualms about moving to France with Paris Saint Germain or Monaco. www1.skysports.com/football/news/…
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 19, 2013
Monaco is bankrolled by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought a majority share of the club back in 2011. Before Rybolovlev took over the club, Monaco struggled and were fighting relegation from Ligue 2.
To return from the brink to gain promotion to Ligue 1 is a remarkable feat, however, it’s the way coach Claudio Ranieri and his team have created that success that people are not happy with.
Rybolovlev said he would invest €100 million in the club, but the recent spending spree would suggest that he in fact invested closer to €200 million.
As the principality of Monaco is a recognised tax haven, several Ligue 1 clubs have expressed concerns about Monaco’s ability to be exempt from the French taxes that everyone else has to pay.
For example, Paris Saint Germain pays Zlatan Ibrahimovic around €30 million a year. If Ibrahimovic played for Monaco he could make the same take-home pay, despite it only costing the club just over €9 million.
In March, the Ligue Professionelle de Football (LFP) decided to exclude Monaco unless the club relocated its headquarters to France and be subjected to the same financial laws as the other clubs.
Monaco has refused to do this, and instead gone on the counter attack, and are taking the issue to court. They have also offered to make a one-off payment of €200 million over seven years for the issue to be dropped, with the money to be divided among those in the top flight.
But even this is not enough to satisfy some critics.
One of the most vocal opponents to Monaco’s promotion to Ligue 1 is Marseille president Vincent Labrune, who spoke out against the club in L’Equipe, calling Monaco a “foreign club.”
“Next year, we will seek as usual to consolidate our position against increased competition with the arrival of a foreign club in Ligue 1,” Labrune said.
“I say yes to AS Monaco being in Ligue 1, but they must be in compliance with our legal and ethical rules as they have been defined. This is not a fight. Monaco is welcome to Ligue 1, but the LFP and our position is quite simple.”
With a final ruling decision on the club a long way away, there is no doubt this issue will only become more prominent as the ruling draws near.
Either way, this transfer window belongs to Monaco. If history is anything to go by, their kleptomania is likely to bring success.
Paddy Naughtin is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University, and a current member of upstart’s staff writers. You can follow him on Twitter here: @PaddyNaughtin
Photo: Wikimedia Commons – Steindy