After being relegated to French Ligue 2 just two seasons ago, AS Monaco already seems like a possible thorn in the side of Paris Saint-Germain, the reigning French champs. A force in the transfer market, Monaco has already signed some first-class talent, and for top dollar, too.
Already Monaco has upgraded their roster immensely this window. So far, their impressive arrivals list consists of Éric Abidal, Jérémy Toulalan, Falcao, James Rodríguez, João Muntinho and Ricardo Carvalho, as well as a few other players who should contribute this coming season and in the future. Overall, Monaco has spent over £126m to bring these players into their club, including paying about £53m to lure Columbian striker Falcao away from Atlético de Madrid.
It seems Monaco might not yet be satisfied, as they have been linked to possibly putting in a record bid of £85m for Real Madrid’s superstar Christiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has only two years remaining on his contract and is known to be dissatisfied with his current home. Ronaldo is feels he is underpaid at Real Madrid, hoping specifically to be paid more than his Barcelona counterpart Lionel Messi. At Monaco this wouldn’t be a problem as they are prepared to offer him a world record salary offer of £17m per year. Monaco is closely watching contract negotiations between Real Madrid and Ronaldo, and if the two sides haven’t come to an agreement by the end of this month, look for Monaco to make their move.
Two major factors have contributed to Monaco being able to spend what seems like unlimited amounts of money to buy some of the best footballers in the world. The first is Dmitry Rybolovlev. Rybolovlev is a Russian billionaire who invested a great deal of money into Monaco in 2011 and is the driving force behind Monaco’s current spending spree. The second reason is that Monaco is a tax haven. Since the club is not located in France but rather in the country of Monaco, the club is not subject to the same tax regulations as other Ligue 1 clubs. With no income tax in the country, Rybolovlev can offer transfer targets liberation from the burdensome tax.
French clubs have been upset by Monaco’s recent spending and their inherent advantage in not having to deal with an income tax. At one point, the Ligue 1 clubs barred Monaco from making the move up to Ligue 1, despite their victory in Ligue 2, unless they agreed to change their status. This outraged Monaco, which has been a part of French football for almost a century, and a compromise was attempted after the French Football Association stepped in. Talks broke down, and Rybolovlev has chosen to take the issue to the courts.
At the moment, it seems like the top two in Ligue 1 will undoubtedly be PSG and Monaco, but at what cost? Will Monaco’s spending binge destroy all hopes for parity in French football for some time to come? Will the club’s moves have an impact on spending regulations through all of Europe? Soon enough these questions will be answered. But for now, supporters of Monaco can be assured they will be watching one of the most competitive clubs in Europe next season.