Radamel Falcao and Victor Valdes are set to be the latest names added to Monaco president Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ever-increasing list of prestigious employees, as Claudio Ranieri’s newly promoted team braces himself to flex his financial muscles onto the big stage.
Having invested a combined £60m for the signatures of James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho, Monaco are set to add their squad that Radamel Falcao by many considered the best striker in the world and the soon-to-be former Atletico Madrid man could soon be joined at the Stade Louis II by Victor Valdes.
If Moutinho and Rodriguez were a signal, Falcao and Valdes are an extremely concrete statement of intent. Monaco aren’t your average newly-promoted club but, then again, very few newly-promoted clubs are bankrolled by a Russian oligarch.
For years Montecarlo has attracted a flurry of sportsmen and entertainment stars seeking shelter in the tax-free haven given that, under the principality’s laws, foreigners do not pay tax on their wages.
The allure of a fiscal paradise is one footballers can hardly turn away from, particularly considering that other Ligue 1 clubs have to contend with the controversial “75 percent tax” on wages exceeding €1m (£850,000) which forces employers – rather than earners, as was originally thought upon the law introduction – to direct a huge amount of money in the state’s coffers.
However, Monaco and their expensively assembled cast of stars, will only be able to indulge in their golden retreat for another 12 months since the French League (LFP) has ruled that the club must move their head office to France by the beginning of June 2014, meaning the players would pay tax in France.
Relocating their head quarters in France to comply with government regulation isn’t likely to constitute a serious stumbling block for Monaco’s ambitions as they look to transform the Ligue 1 into a two-horse race.
A race in which both horses are incredibly wealthy and which, in the long term, could prove to be detrimental for the future of France’s top division.
“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.
“Signing Falcao is a big coup on sporting and media levels for French football,” said Monaco’s assistant coach, Jean Petit, to Radio RCN but, despite what he and his club and PSG’s advocates might think, signing Falcao and Ibrahimovic is only going to benefit their respective clubs – as well as they former employers who have, or will trouser a hefty fee.
Ahead of the 2012-13 season, PSG spent £130m on players, while the other 19 Ligue 1 clubs spent a combined £96.3m between them. Despite being in Ligue 2, Monaco’s relatively modest £21m spending spree made them the second-highest spending team in France, with Lille the only Ligue 1 coming close to match Monaco’s investment.
Rather than cut cut a rather more prominent figure for the French league in the landscape of European football, PSG’s run to the quarter final of the Champions League and their domestic success simply granted more attention to the capital’s club – something Monaco will be looking to emulate in the next couple of seasons.
Yes, we might spend a little longer talking about French football than we used to, but try to imagine that next season Blackburn (or any other Championship team, for that matter) would be second only to Manchester City in terms of money spent in the transfer window.
It would paint a rather bleak picture for the competitiveness of English football, wouldn’t it?