Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA look at Monaco’s millions - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A look at Monaco’s millions - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A look at Monaco’s millions

It has been a good week for the tiny principality state of Monaco. The state, based on the French south-coast, has hosted its annual Grand Prix and signed the Porto duo James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho whilst Real Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho is also said to be on his way. All are exciting arrivals for the side; Moutinho is one of the most accomplished play-makers in Europe, Rodriguez is said to be the ‘new-Ronaldo’ and the 35-year-old Carvalho will bring some experience to the team.

However, recent reports are suggesting that Radamel Falcao will also be joining the red and whites this summer. While the first set of transfers were seen as a surprise and good investment for Monaco, Falcao’s name has come as something as a shock. The Columbian has scored 70 goals in 88 games for Athletico Madrid since joining the capital side from Porto in 2011, and is one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe. Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City are all said to be keen on the 27-year-old’s signature. He will surely only have a few more years left at the top level, so why would he choose to join Monaco?

AS Monaco were only promoted back to the top-flight this season, and even in Ligue 1, are hardly the most obvious outfit for one of the world’s best strikers to join. However there are two factors that have led to this bizarre turn of events.

Being a famous tax haven where the rich and famous live a glamorous lifestyle, it may be obvious that Monaco’s football team has a bit of money to spend, but since being taken over in 2011, they have become super, filthily, stinking (add your own superlative) rich.

Dmitry Rybolovlev, a 45-year-old businessman from, you guessed it; Russia, has turned round the clubs fortunes (no pun intended) , since his takeover in December 2011. Even for a wealthy Russian, Rybolovlev is exceedingly rich and it ranked 93rd on the list of Forbes billionaires. He pledged to invest at least 100m euros over the next four years.

Fair enough, but lots of football clubs are owned by rich businessmen. If Falcao is moving for money then why doesn’t he just go to Chelsea, or if he is serious about lining his pockets then Anzhi, LA Galaxy or Al Saad?

That is where the second factor comes in; third party ownership. After the controversial transfers of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, the FA took measures to ban third-party ownership- but the practice still exists on the continent, and Hulk’s surprising transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg last summer was similar scenario. Young South American players are often approached by agents who sign the player’s registration rights; either while the player is at a club or as part of a transfer. The third party agent can then go to the club where he is registered and negotiate to buy his registration rights, leaving the player in the hands of the third-party agency. Clubs will often seek the help of third-party agents to sign players who they could not otherwise afford.

Third party agents want to gain their players as much exposure as possible, as they make money through transfers.  Players also need the exposure to sign for high-placed clubs, so therefore pay the third-party agents a high salary. In the case of Falcao, the Columbian belonged to an agency founded by Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes-who owned a 55% ownership of Falcao. Very few clubs could afford to buy Falcao outright, and those who could didn’t want to. PSG had enough strikers, Real Madrid were unwilling to fork out the huge fees to agents on top of the transfer and wages, whilst Chelsea and Manchester City are toning down their overseas swoops and also face the issue of not being allowed to purchase a player from a third-party owner. Monaco are the only club who can afford Falcao and willing to take him on. Falcao has little say in his destination and is ferried around Europe to make a return for the investors who own him.

It is a tangled web, but gives an insight into how football works behind closed doors. A very shady and complicated place, where the agents always win and the players have little say. One feels for Falcao, who surely would not choose to move to Monaco at the age of 27- but then again football is a passion for the fans, but nothing more than a business and a job for those involved in it.

Will Mata