So it looks like the world’s most heralded ‘Number 9’ is on his way to the billionaire’s playground that is the Principality of Monaco. Falcao seemingly would have had countless options but it is one of Europe’s new uber-rich clubs that have snared him, going against the grain of the historic superpowers of European football. Do the world’s footballing elite have a lot more options than they once did? Do WAG’s prefer the Carré d’Or to The Trafford Centre? Or does Jorge Mendes literally run the whole of world football?…………
So why not to The Premiership to the likes of the Manchester clubs or Chelsea? It seems that the league Sky Sports often herald as ‘The best and most exciting in the world’ isn’t quite the draw it once was to the global superstars of the game. Perhaps there is an arrogance domestically on this front, assuming the all conquering Premier League will be the draw for these players? This draw over money or fashionable European hotspots?
European football tends to go in cycles as for where the power lies in the transfer markets. Since the mid-80’s it was traditionally Serie A that attracted the star names with the likes of Maradona, Gullit, Lentini and towards the late 90’s and turn of millenium there was big spending from the likes of Lazio, Juventus and the Milan clubs.
This led us into the ‘Galactico’ era where Real Madrid took to signing all of the globe’s superstars and did a pretty fine job at it with Messrs Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and Beckham. Towards the middle of the noughties Abramovich came in to Chelsea spending his rubles, followed by Manchester City’s various outlandish splashes. This created an apparent axis in Europe where all of the major spending was between La Liga and The Premiership.
In the past couple of years the wealth and power in European football has cast the net further afield…. In France there is the Qatari Investment Authority at PSG who have spent near £200 million on global stars, even upsetting Sir Alex Ferguson in the meantime who wasn’t happy that “Someone can spend 46 million euros on a 19-year-old boy”.
Add to this the Russian’s of Anzhi Makhachkala and Zenit and there is no shortage of money around. Then there is Bayern who look to be playing the best football of anyone in Europe at present. Bayern aren’t afraid of spending some big money either with Martinez coming in last summer, Gotze recently and Lewandowski likely following suit. Spending on three players likely to mount upwards of 100 million euros for 3 players.
Monaco were Champions of Ligue 2 under their very own Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev. With the tinkerman Claudio Ranieri at the helm they have the cheque book open as you read this. A cheque book that carries extra power than your average oligarch’s. With the principality’s status they bring an income tax rate that not many clubs in Europe can compete against when paying salaries. Having signed Joao Moutinho, Victor Valdes, Ricardo Carvalho and James Rodriguez they clearly mean serious business.
With Oligarchs and Sheikhs popping up all over the place the simple economic fact is it will lead to increased demand. All of which is sure to delight Jorge Mendes, THE super agent. He will be able to add a few more numbers to his phonebook other than that of Mr Abramovich and Mr Florentino Perez.
Monaco seem to be en vogue for Mendes at present. The nouveau riche club were logically the only place Falcao could have gone and he probably had no choice in the matter either. All of the players mentioned earlier who are heading to Monaco are all Mendes clients and Falcao is in fact co-owned by Mendes’ investment company. Competitors for his signatre would have had to pay circa £300k a week to match what Falcao would receive from Monaco. The English teams would also have the headache of sidestepping the third party ownership rule (think Tevez/Mascherano a few years back).
So the super-agents run football and the super-rich will keep buying clubs, all the while splashing the cash. In fact Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms magnate and on-off World’s Richest Man actually has a 32% share in Spanish Segunda Division club Real Oviedo. If Mendes has his way Slim will be in the phonebook and Cristiano will be plying his trade in Northern Spain in 2015 on 12 million pesos a week and an unlimited texts phone contract. You heard it here first!