Just under a year ago, I along with many wrote about the influx of foreign cash into now French champions, Paris Saint-Germain (click https://conordcfc.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/are-psg-europes-new-superclub/ if you fancy another read!). I discussed how the capital’s club were finally ready to break through and become a top European club. Fast-forward a season, they won the league at a canter and impressed in the Champions League, reaching the quarter-final stage, with years of domestic dominance on the horizon as a result. Enter AS Monaco.
Having been recently promoted back to Ligue Un, the Principality known for it’s rich residents and fast cars is aiming to add a successful football team to it’s roster, by taking the MONEY route to success. Yes, Monaco are the next big players on the transfer market and are looking to establish themselves amongst football’s elite clubs. Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev is bankrolling a revolution down on the French Riviera, that has so far seen the likes of Atletico Madrid’s Colombian superstar Falcao join the cause, alongside a couple of Porto’s best players, in Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez, and then Ricardo Carvalho on a free transfer, the experienced Portuguese centre-half exiting Real Madrid this summer. Signings that spelt out the club’s intentions, to return to the higher reaches of French football.
Monaco, have history. One of the most successful French clubs, despite not actually being ‘French’, the club has achieved 7 league titles, 5 Coupe de France’s, alongside a runners-up appearance in a Champions League final, less than 10 years ago, where only Jose Mourinho and his Porto team stood in their way. Not bad, not bad at all. But then came the slide, with many of the core of the side that brought the epic Champions League run of 2003-04, leaving and the teams slacking lower down the table, before relegation in 2010-11, saw them condemned to Ligue Du. It was at this point that Rybolovlev took charge, and employed Italian Claudio Ranieri to steer his new team back to the top division, which they did after a couple of seasons.
Now, we are back to the present, and in almost every newspaper you pick up, every transfers section, there is Monaco’s name, linked with a top player, be it Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, even John Terry (not a top player by any means!) has been linked with a move to the South of France, but why exactly? Sure their owner has billions in abundance, but it is the tax exemption that Monaco is allowed to have that mostly bolsters their attractiveness. Whilst the rest of France, has a 75% rule, Monaco has nothing, meaning that even fellow French rivals PSG, will be under threat from the league’s new-boys financial wins. French clubs have been trying for years to remove the rather unfair rule, but to no avail, meaning, for now, the club have got the entire footballing horizon to ‘exploit’.
But can they truly build a world-beating side in a summer? Look at other of these projects, going back to PSG, it took them a couple of years to win the league, England’s Manchester City a few more, Anzhi Makhachkala have been nothing but a Europa League eyesore and Malaga are now seeing their assets stripped of them, due to the dire financial straights their owners have put them in, with the withdrawal of funds. Money doesn’t always guarantee success, and patience will be of a virtue, not that the average attendance of 10,000 or so at the Stade Louis II will mind, it’s more will the players mind.
Of course, those joining this season will be absent from European competition for a season at least, as Ranieri’s side don’t magically gain entrance to a UEFA competition purely from having a big, fat chequebook. No, they have to earn their place in Europe, and even then, strict Financial Fair Play rules will have to be abided by, for entry to be successful (not that the ruling has stopped the likes of Man City and Chelsea from entering the Champions League). Even the Ligue Un title, will be hard to rip from holders PSG’s grasp, the side boasting some genuine world-class players with the likes of Ibrahimovic, Silva, Lucas and Lavezzi. For all the financial gain, do footballers really want to put their careers on hold for a season to be part of the ‘project’?
Well with the initial acquisitions of the men above, it seems so, the trio signed for a combined total of £110million all rejecting Champions League football. But there have been rumours floating about that French record signing (at £50million) Falcao will pick up his £10million wage packet for this season only, before moving onto the next step in his career, perhaps the Premier League, or a return to Madrid for Los Blancos. Still, who knows, but with such indecisiveness amongst signings already made by Ligue Un’s newcomers, how can prospective signings be feeling about it? Could the Monaco revolution be over before it’s begun? Who knows, but Monaco and Ligue Un could be the league to watch next season, with potential signings Rooney, Tevez and Di Maria, joining Ibrahimovic, Silva, Falcao and Lucas Moura…